Climate change presents broad ethical and practical challenges for the house of medicine. Those of us in health care walk a difficult line as we contribute substantial greenhouse gas emissions through our clinical practice environments while also witnessing the adverse health impacts from climate change. Emergency departments sit on the frontline as emergency medicine is anticipated to carry a heavy burden given its primary roles in prehospital care, health care access and coordination, disasters, and care for disproportionately affected vulnerable populations. No matter one’s current position in the health care climate change movement, an understanding of emergency medicine’s role in this sphere is critical for future strategic success.
This session, led by emergency medicine physicians at the forefront of the intersection of climate change and health, will outline the current and predicted impacts of climate change on emergency departments. A special emphasis will be placed on recent natural disasters as a case study for these impacts and emergency medicine roles. There is currently a significant gap in the literature to provide an evidence-based platform for these impacts, so this discussion will highlight the opportunities that exist for research and educational imperatives. It is critical that these be achieved through an interdisciplinary manner involving the broad stroke of professionals who play intersecting roles. A discussion on emergency department preparedness and resilience strategies will follow, as well as current approaches that exist for climate change mitigation, such as greening emergency department operations. Lastly, emergency medicine’s role in climate change leadership and advocacy will be highlighted. These roles will mandate collaboration and coordination with the health care and sustainability spheres. Overall, this session will highlight the role of emergency medicine in managing health impacts from climate change with tangible application to the wider spectrum of health care systems.