On Wednesday, July 13th, the National Integrated Heat Health Information System held its first regional workshop in El Paso (during an active heat wave and under threat of rolling blackouts) to understand the heat-health needs and unique adaptive approaches of the Rio Grande/Bravo region. The workshop was opened by Nicole Ferrini, Chief Resilience Officer of El Paso, and lead by Gregg Garfin of CLIMAS (the Southwest NOAA Regional Integrated Science and Assessments [RISA] program), but also included participants from emergency management, public health, research institutions, design and construction, and NGOs. The area is no stranger to extremes, and has developed interventions including an extreme weather task force, preparing promotoras (lay Hispanic/Latino community members who receives specialized training to provide basic health education in the community) to reach vulnerable populations, and has attracted investment through the Rockefeller 100 Resilient Cities initiative (in both Ciudad Juárez and El Paso).
The workshop was funded in part by CPO, and CPO’s Hunter Jones and Juli Trtanj were on the planning committee and spoke about the the NIHHIS framing for the workshop. The interdisciplinary set of participants was engaged in plenary and breakouts to understand the existing interventions and capacity, information and research needs, and to set an agenda for resilience to extreme heat going forward. Local news outlets also featured the workshop, which was open to all local heat health practitioners, and conducted interviews with several of the participants. A workshop report and subsequent work stream meetings on the key NIHHIS components are forthcoming. The RGB region is one of several initial foci for NIHHIS, which is conducting these regional engagements to understand how the heat-health needs may be similar or different, and which is building a broad, network of practitioners interested in addressing the mounting problem of extreme heat.