UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program

Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: UCLA Disaster Resource Center
Los Angeles, CA
Ryan Burgess, RN
Student Name: Ryan Tuchmayer
Year: 2005

The nation’s healthcare infrastructure is unprepared to deal with a sudden massive influx of patients. The goal of the Disaster Resource Center (DRC) program is to design a healthcare capability to care for thousands of patients or victims from a terrorist attack or natural disaster when the local system is overwhelmed. The DRC program is part of the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program Grant, whose mission is to enhance surge capacity for hospitals through the provision of ventilators, pharmaceuticals, medical/surgical supplies and large tent shelters to provide treatment to victims of a terrorist event or other public health emergency.

I worked at the UCLA Disaster Resource Center, one of eleven DRCs in LA County during winter quarter, 2006. The UCLA DRC is responsible for coordinating disaster medical resources for hospitals, clinics, and Fire/Emergency Medical Service agencies on the west-end of LA County. During a major disaster, in addition to providing resources to UCLA, the DRC would also coordinate the distribution of medical supplies to the affected region or to the organizations in the west end of the county based on need and availability.

I worked closely with my preceptor, Ryan Burgess, RN, on this project. I conducted hazardous materials decontamination training for medical center employees who volunteered to join the decontamination team, created instruction guides for the setup and operation of the decontamination system, helped setup and train staff on the surge capacity system, and helped write various plans and procedures related to the disaster response roles of the DRC.

This field experience taught me about the LA County disaster health system and the evolving preparation needs in a post 9/11 society. I used my knowledge from my job working in the UCLA ER and on two of the LA County disaster teams to help establish programs and plans at UCLA DRC. This placement reinforced the program planning techniques taught in the CHS program and expanded my knowledge of the disaster management techniques taught in the CHS disaster classes


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