Embassy Disaster Preparedness

Since the days following 9/11, Washington, DC, probably more than other communities in the nation, has stood at heightened alert for terrorist activities. WPS members have taken an active role in preparing themselves to serve our community should disaster - either manmade or natural- strike our region. As the nation's capital, Washington is home to a large contingent of foreign nationals, many of whom belong to the 180 embassies and legations in the city.

In 2003, the WPS International Medical Graduate (IMG) group organized an outreach program to assist the diplomatic community. Our goal is to link a WPS member with the embassy of his/her native country.

As we make connections with the embassies, we convey to them the need for and the value of a mental health component in addressing medical emergencies generated by a disaster. We can serve an educational need on the kinds of mental health problems that may follow a disaster in the immediate aftermath and the years that follow. WPS IMGs in the program have agreed to be available even on site at the embassy should disaster strike and to serve at the request and direction of the Ambassador. Participants have undergone disaster response training and will keep themselves current on the literature and available for additional training opportunities.

At present, 25 embassies have agreed to be a part of our program. Where we are not able to find a WPS member from a particular country, we have matched that embassy with a psychiatrist who speaks the native language. Click here to see the list of embassies.

As the list of embassies participating grows, we invite WPS IMG members from other nations to join our program and commit to this important program and service to the diplomatic community. Also, we invite non IMG psychiatrists to join. We need more psychiatrists. If you are interested in the program or have questions, please contact Dr. Erminia Scarcella by email at e.scarcellamd@gmail.com.

Washington Psychiatric Society Committee on Disaster Response to the International Community Mission Statement

In order to demonstrate our concern for all members of the Washington, DC Community and especially to serve the Diplomatic Corps and its dependents in the event of a disaster, either natural or manmade, The Washington Psychiatric Society, led by its International Medical Graduate members, establishes a Committee on Disaster Response to the International Community. The Committee has determined that the following goals will guide its activities:

1. We will convey to the diplomatic community through embassy officials the need for and value of a mental health component in addressing medical emergencies generated by a disaster.
2. We will educate embassy personnel on the kinds of mental health problems that often follow in the immediate and long-term aftermath of a disaster.
3. We will inform embassy leaders of the benefits of having mental health professionals on call and available to care for embassy staff and dependents should disaster strike.
4. We will make ourselves available on site at the embassies as soon as practicable in the wake of a disaster to render psychiatric medical care to persons in need of such care.
5. We will coordinate with other medical professionals and serve as a component of the medical team in caring for the needs of embassy staff and dependents in a disaster.
6. We will serve as a liaison between the embassies and the larger medical community, and facilitate medical referrals as needed.
7. We will, through an on-going dialogue, consult with embassy staff to assess each embassy's particular needs and wishes for mental health care, and design response programs tailored to each embassy's requirements. 
8. We will go only where we are invited. 
9. We will avail ourselves of training and educational opportunities to enhance our skills as healers and psychiatric medical responders to disaster.

10. We will be guided at all times by the ethical standards of the medical profession and our oath as physicians.

Links to the Embassy Partners