The virtual network supporting the front lines: addressing emerging behavioral health problems following the tsunami of 2004

Mil Med. 2006 Oct;171(10 Suppl 1):40-3. doi: 10.7205/milmed.171.1s.40.


The devastation wreaked by the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean required extensive multinational and nongovernmental relief efforts to address the massive loss of infrastructure, people, and society. This article addresses approaches to behavioral incident management from a process perspective, through the lens of one official stateside channel of emergency operations. The process highlights the formation and connectivity of multidisciplinary teams that virtually supported the efforts of a seven-person, on-scene, behavioral health team aboard the USNS Mercy as part of Operation Unified Assistance in the Indian Ocean. Frontline health diplomacy and behavioral health relief efforts were greatly augmented by the virtual network of support from leading experts around the globe. Future disaster response and recovery efforts ought to build on the success of such virtual support networks, by planning for appropriate technology, expertise, and mutual aid partnerships.

MeSH terms

  • Behavioral Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Computer Communication Networks*
  • Disasters*
  • Emergency Services, Psychiatric / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Indonesia
  • Medical Missions / organization & administration*
  • Military Medicine / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Program Evaluation
  • Relief Work / organization & administration
  • Ships*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / etiology
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy*
  • Telemedicine / organization & administration*
  • United Nations
  • United States