Disaster-response training is as different from traditional CME activities as the aftermath of a killer hurricane is from the usual day in the office. These programs teach physicians and other healthcare workers skills that usually lie far outside the realm of CME, such as how to communicate with the various federal, state, regional, and local authorities under chaotic circumstances; in other words, how to work in a multi-specialty, multi-disciplinary environment that extends to fire, police, the military, and beyond. Then there are the other challenges for organizers: funding that comes and goes with the news cycle, a reluctance on the part of physicians and other healthcare workers to spend time learning something they fervently hope they'll never need to know, and the tangle of agencies that must coordinate their training efforts for the activity to be effective.
Disaster-preparation training may not seem to be worth the hassle, but as the past 12 months' worth of tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist bombings, and other natural and man-made disasters -- not to mention the pending threat of an avian flu pandemic -- have made all too clear, this type of training is essential for all healthcare workers, not just those usually found on the front lines of emergency care, because disaster can strike anywhere, any time.
When I was researching the story, it seems like everyone and their brother was putting on some kind of disaster-related CME activity, but most were focused on a specific clinical area, not the bigger picture that really is the most important thing to have under control should disaster strike yet again. Anyway, if you read it, I'd love to know what you think of it.