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Disaster Preparedness and Response Caucus

The healthcare needs of women, infants, and childbearing families require special and specific attention during crisis situations. In the past decade, humanitarian agencies have embraced numerous positive changes that have improved recognition, professionalism, coordination, and accountability of this reality. Many disaster preparedness and response agencies are now prioritizing gynecological and maternal health in the services they plan for and deliver - which means they need more midwives to sign up and volunteer! ACNM does not deploy midwives to the field, but wants to support you in your desire to participate in these important professional activities.

Midwives who are interested in participating in preparedness activities and disaster response locally, nationally, or internationally are encouraged to seek opportunities to join a recognized agency or organization well in advance of the onset of the next disaster. This provides you with opportunities to:

  • Receive disaster and public health emergency training (often at no cost to you);
  • Have your credentials verified in advance - which protects you and speeds your ability to deploy; and
  • Influence the activities of disaster agencies regarding the health care of women, infants, and families during times of crisis, supporting the participation of local and visiting midwives to undertake preparedness planning and to deliver clinical services during times of crisis.

Karen Hays, CNM & Robbie Prepas, CNM are the founding members of the DPRC caucus. For more information, please contact Karen Hays ([email protected]) or Robbie Prepas ([email protected]), or ACNM’s Division of Global Engagement (

Domestic Disasters and Emergencies

Midwives are strongly encouraged, and in some states may be required, to register with a federal Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) [ ] and/or with their local (state or county-level) Medical Reserve Core (MRC) [ ]. You'll receive specialized training in the Incident Command System used for disaster response organization and accountability in the U.S., and you'll be covered for liability when deployed on missions. The Red Cross also welcomes volunteers who are health care providers [ ].

The U.S. states and territories that participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact enable nurses to cross state lines and provide clinical services without applying for a new license in that state. This is convenient for volunteering to help during disasters, but is limited to the RN role. The map of compact states can be found at . There is also a compact plan for APRNs, but thus far few states and no territories participate; the map is located at .

International Disasters and Complex Emergencies

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the InterAgency Standing Committee (IASC) are the key leaders during crises that require an international response. They ensure that the Cluster Coordination System is properly implemented. Explore the following resources for detailed information regarding standards and best practices for foreign medical teams in acute disaster situations:

Click here [ ] or search on the ACNM JMWH webpage to see the Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health, July-August 2015, Volume 60, article about CNMs and CMs volunteering during international humanitarian relief efforts . For the most current information, an internet search using the key words “midwives” or “maternity” plus "humanitarian," "disaster," "emergencies" and "response," "relief," "volunteering" or "aid" should yield a variety of resources to assist you in discovering information that interest you.

ACNM Resources

ACNM Disaster Preparedness Resources webpage at

Hays, K., & Prepas, R. (2015). The Professionalization of International Disaster Response: It Is Time for Midwives to Get Ready. (Requires member login) Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 60(4), doi: 10.1111/jmwh.12339. Available at

Share With Women. (2011). Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 56(2), doi: 10.1111/j.1542-2011.2010.00020.x Available at

Williams, D. (2004). Giving Birth In Place: A Guide to Emergency Preparedness for Childbirth. Journal of Midwifery and Women’s Health, 49(4, Suppl. 1), doi: 10.1016/j.jmwh.2004.04.030 Available at


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