Training Courses for the Disaster Information Specialist Program
One of the core competencies in disaster health is to be able to “communicate effectively with others in a disaster or public health emergency, including identifying authoritative sources for information and strategies for appropriate sharing of that information.” (Source: National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health)
This page is a collection of resources on free training and education for professionals interested in identifying, using, and sharing disaster health information.
Some of these courses provide continuing education credit (CE) through the Medical Library Association (MLA). If you are taking a course for MLA CE credit, please register and complete the class through our free online registration system. There is a link to the registration system on the Introduction page of each course.
These courses can also be accessed in the Public Health Foundation TRAIN.
MLA Disaster Information Specialization Certificate
The MLA awards a disaster information specialization certificate for completion of a series of courses and other activities.
The Basic Level requires 15 CE credits of training.
Required courses (descriptions below):
- Disaster Health Information Sources: The Basics (3 MLA CE credits)
- IS-700.B An Introduction to the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- IS-100.C Introduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100
- An additional six CE credits from the list below.
You have three years to gather the credits needed to apply for the Basic Level of the Specialization. The Basic Level is valid for three years. To keep your Specialization valid, you must take eight credits every three years.
We recommend that individuals with the Basic Specialization use their three years to acquire the Advanced Level Specialization instead of maintaining Basic Level status. This requires only 12 more credits.
The Advanced Level require a total of 27 CE credits:
You can complete all the Advanced Level requirements in three years, or you can complete the Basic requirements in three years and take up to an additional three years to take 12 more credits for an Advanced Level.
You have three years to gather the credits needed to apply for the Advanced Level of the Specialization. The Advanced Level is valid for three years. To keep your Advanced Level of the Specialization valid, you must take eight CE credits every three years.
Basic Level Required Courses
- Disaster Health Information Sources: The Basics
Provides a comprehensive overview of the essential resources needed to provide health-related information services for supporting disaster mitigation, planning, response, and recovery. (3 MLA CE credits)
- IS-700.B An Introduction to the National Incident Management System (NIMS)
Introduces and provides an overview of the National Incident Management System (NIMS). NIMS provides a comprehensive approach to guide government, private-sector, and nongovernmental organizations to work together during domestic incidents. The course is available online at no cost from FEMA.
- IS-100.B Introduction to Incident Command System, ICS-100
Describes the history, features and principles, and organizational structure of the Incident Command System (ICS). ICS is a standardized approach to incident management. The course is available online at no cost from FEMA.
Additional CE Options
For the Basic Level certificate, complete six additional CE credits from the courses below.
If you have the Basic Level certificate, complete 12 additional CE credits for your Advanced Level certificate.
- In Case of Emergencies: Continuity of Operations (COOP) Planning
Defines and describes continuity of operations (COOP) planning and why it is important for libraries to have a continuity plan in case of emergencies. This course also provides a one-page COOP plan template with instructions that librarians or information specialists can use to develop their own plan. (4 MLA CE credits)
- Social Media Analysis During Disasters
Assists in developing and implementing plans to effectively monitor and analyze disaster information on social media. (3 MLA CE credits)
- US Response to Disasters and Public Health Emergencies
Provides an introduction to disaster/emergency planning and response as conducted in the United States, with an emphasis on medical response. (3 MLA CE credits)
- Information Roles in Disaster Management
Presents research findings on librarians' roles supporting the disaster workforce. Information needs of first responders, emergency managers, and other professionals working in the areas of disaster planning, response, and recovery are also discussed. (3 MLA CE credits)
- A Seat at the Table: Working with the Disaster Workforce
Covers the basics of initiating and developing relationships with all relevant local, state, and federal officials and agencies as well as with emergency responders. (4 MLA CE credits)
- Health and Disasters: Understanding the International Context
Identifies who's who (and why) in the international disaster community, their roles and responsibilities in pre- and post-disaster situations, and the type of information that they may offer or require to respond to real or perceived needs, with a particular focus on health. (4 MLA CE credits)
- CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives): Health Information Resources
Provides an overview of the concepts of CBRNE, including a review of the National Library of Medicine resources and tools that provide health-related information for supporting planning, response, and recovery from the effects of these potential hazards. Includes a review of WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders), CHEMM (Chemical Hazards Emergency Medical Management), and REMM (Radiation Emergency Medical Management). (4 MLA CE credits)
- Packing Your Digital Go-Bag: Essential Disaster Health Information on Your Mobile Device
Identifies and discusses key resources that responders and disaster/emergency preparedness professionals should load on their mobile devices as part of their preparedness activities. (1 MLA CE credit)
- Disaster Information Specialist Program Webinars/Conference Calls
Webinars for those interested in disaster health information are held on the second Thursday of most months at 1:30 ET. (1 MLA CE credit for participating in each monthly webinar or watching a recording.)
- IS-42: Social Media in Emergency Management
Provide best practices including tools, techniques and a basic roadmap to build capabilities in the use of social media technologies in emergency management organizations to further emergency response missions.
- Activate, Collaborate, and Educate: Health Outreach and Programming in Your Community
Provides an overview of planning health programs for organizations incorporating resources from the National Library of Medicine (NLM). (1, 2 or 3 MLA CE Credits)
- Dissemination and Disasters: Using Information to Save Lives
An hour-long, asynchronous course to introduce the four phases of emergency management and demonstrating how to use tools from the National Library of Medicine, including MedlinePlus, DisasterLit, REMM and WISER. (1 MLA CE Credit)
Locating Additional Resources
Additional courses can be located at the resources listed below. If you want to receive MLA CE credit for the courses below, fill out an Individual Participant Request (IPR) form from MLA.
- NIEHS Worker Training Program (WTP) COVID-19 Training Resources from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- Disaster Health Core Curriculum from the National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health
- Online Training and Instructional Materials
List of free online training and instructional materials related to disaster medicine and public health in NLM Disaster Lit database.
- NLM Public Health Resources Tutorial
Overview of free online public health training and instructional materials from NLM. Related fact sheet (PDF).
- NLM Learning Resources Database
Collection of educational materials created by NLM. Includes videos, tutorials, webinars, etc., that educate users on NLM products and services, including PubMed, PubMed Central, MEDLINE, and more.
- Community Health Maps online tutorial
Learn how Community Health Maps can help communities and individuals collect and map health-related data. Collect and visualize your health data in online and printable maps.
- Professional Development Classes from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine
List of educational materials, resources, and classes about disaster health information and other National Library of Medicine resources.
- TOXNET Training Class
Information about "TOXNET and Beyond: Using the National Library of Medicine's Environmental Health and Toxicology Portal". Includes a link to the corresponding workbook.
Covers key principles of toxicology for users of the NLM chemical and toxicology databases.
- WISER (Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders) Tutorial Videos
Three short videos (4-7 minutes each) give an overview of WISER, and explain the Known Substance and Protective Distance features in greater depth. Transcripts are available.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute Independent Study Program
The Emergency Management Institute offers online courses for people with emergency management roles and for the general public.
- American Red Cross
Online courses are available after registering with the American Red Cross Learning Center.
- Converge Training Modules
These 30- to 60-minute courses from the National Science Foundation-supported CONVERGE team at the Natural Hazards Center cover a variety of topics that researchers can use to find background on conducting extreme events research.
TRAIN is a database of national and state training on all public health topics. Free registration is required.
- MEDLIB-ED, Medical Library Association
This Clearinghouse is a listing of courses, other educational activities such as Webcasts, and other educational resources.
- OpenWHO, World Health Organization
OpenWHO is an interactive, web-based, knowledge-transfer platform offering online courses to improve the response to health emergencies. The OpenWHO app is available for iOS in the App Store, and for Android on Google Play.
- Kaya, Humanitarian Leadership Academy
Kaya is the online learning platform of the Humanitarian Leadership Academy, offering courses for professional humanitarians as well as community members supporting the response to a crisis.