🚧 Website Maintenance in Progress: Thank you for visiting! We are currently in the process of enhancing our website to serve you better. Please check back soon for our new and improved website.

“On December 26, an earthquake strong enough to stop the earth’s rotation for a split second struck near the coast of Indonesia, and in the hours that followed, a massive wave formed that was large enough to travel thousands of miles and ultimately claim 160,000 lives, according to the United Nations,” (from www.redcross.org, February 7, 2005).

We were shocked by the shear magnitude of the tsunami, as it is unprecedented in our lifetime. For ISTSS members, the event highlights the need for coordination and dissemination of services. Many of our members and colleagues have assisted in various ways. I was heartened by the response of ISTSS members, the trauma community and survivors at large. We are all well aware of the benefits we gain by helping others in need—how it helps us by helping others—but I am struck by the outpouring of goodwill, and I am proud of our members and my colleagues. We hope to include discussion of some of these efforts at the annual meeting in Toronto in November.

The devastation wrought by the tsunami spotlighted ISTSS’s role. How do we respond as an organization to events such as this? How do we support member involvement? Of course, services must conform to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, with the basics of food, shelter and clean water taking precedence over short- and long-term psychological recovery. But as psychological needs arise, ISTSS should be a reliable resource. Shortly after the tsunami, we posted relevant information on the home page of the ISTSS Web site, and I extend my thanks to members who responded in such a swift manner that allowed us to respond quickly. We decided, as we have in the past, that because ISTSS has knowledge and experience of dealing with trauma issues, we should offer our published trauma material on the Web site, and links to other organizations.

Though we would like to respond as an organization to all traumatic events, at this time, we do not have the budget or human resources to do so. We are open to suggestion from members as to how ISTSS can make itself more available when tragedy strikes—and what kinds of traumatic events we should respond to. Of course, when traumatic incidents occur, many of our individual members around the world respond on site by providing direct services to survivors, providers and other professionals, or by providing information to the public or media. Contact me at brothba@emory.edu with ideas that would help us provide relevant and wide-ranging information to people in a timely manner. I will collect the responses and discuss them with the ISTSS ombudsperson.

Task Force Intervention
One thing ISTSS has done to further the goal of sharing its knowledge is the forming of a new task force. I am happy to report that Edna Foa has agreed to chair the Dissemination Task Force. The idea for a Dissemination Task Force emerged out of discussions by the ISTSS board regarding the best uses of additional funds the society might develop in order to carry out the mission of the organization. The resulting focus on dissemination efforts was outlined in a 2004 survey of ISTSS members regarding a potential fundraising campaign by the society. In response to the outcome of the survey, the ISTSS board decided to pursue dissemination initiatives, including offering local educational workshops by the society instead of conducting a fundraising campaign. In addition to meeting ISTSS’s dissemination objectives directly, it is hoped that income from the workshops will enable the society to produce enduring materials to disseminate information on a larger scale.

2005 Annual Meeting Plans in Progress
Planning for the 2005 annual meeting November 2–5 in Toronto continues. We are collaborating with our colleagues in the Veterans Administration of Canada and the Department of National Defense of Canada. These organizations will have the opportunity to take advantage of our presence to provide training for their health care professionals. In turn, this collaboration will attract attendees who otherwise might not attend the meeting.

Thanks to everyone who submitted an abstract online. Those who submitted abstracts will be notified in late August whether or not their submissions have been selected by the Program Committee. Be sure to check the ISTSS conference Web site for the latest updates.