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May 20
Community Paramedicine and the Changing Face of Pre-Hospital Care

For decades, emergency medical services (EMS) have conjured an image of ambulances speeding to save a life. We’re all familiar with their customary and important roles: rapid response for those in medical crisis; stabilization at the scene when necessary; and transport to hospital emergency departments (EDs) for continued management. Activated by a national network of 911 call centers, EMS professionals are poised for deployment to almost any site in the country to intervene in an emergency.

Today, however, many EMS systems have evolved from responding to medical emergencies to providing a broad range of mobile health and clinical services. In this regard, EMS professionals are serving as the safety net for patients with chronic conditions who lack reliable, responsive primary care. The dataExit Icon seem to suggest that these efforts can address chronic health problems before they become emergencies. From transporting patients with less acute problems to an urgent care clinic or physician’s office as opposed to an ED to helping individuals more effectively manage their condition at home, the face of EMS is changing.

Related challenges and opportunities for the future of EMS are being addressed by innovative programs for enhancing paramedic services, including several interesting model tests supported through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Innovation Center’s Round One and Round Two Health Care Innovation Awards (HCIA-1, HCIA-2). For the last several years, awardees have tested a range of EMS interventions, such as:

  • basic primary care by nurse practitioners/paramedic teams who treat and release patients in their homes or in the field following a 911 call [City of Mesa Fire & Medical Department];
  • use of community paramedics to conduct home assessment for fall risk [Yale] and transition patients from an in-patient hospital stay to a successful recovery in the home [REMSA];
  • ambulance transport of patients with less urgent medical conditions to locations other than the ED (e.g., urgent care centers, detoxification centers, behavioral health facilities) [City of Mesa Fire & Medical Department, REMSA];
  • nurse triage and referral to health care and community services via a non-emergency nurse health line [REMSA] or a 911 call [City of Mesa Fire & Medical Department]; and,
  • treatment at home for patients who would otherwise be admitted to a hospital admission for selected conditions [Mount-Sinai].

These approaches to enhancing EMS were discussed at a recent roundtable hosted by the CMS Innovation Center on March 17, 2016. The roundtable was convened as part of a Population Health Summit Series, in which the CMS Innovation Center brings key payer and provider stakeholders from across the HCIA landscape to identify alternative payment strategies that combat big population health problems. Over the course of this recent full-day gathering, four HCIA awardee teams, relevant payers, and federal partners across the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies explored barriers, opportunities, and solutions to sustainability. The primary aim was to assist awardees in continuing to provide better care in their communities. Ultimately, the dialogue served as a catalyst for awardees to strategize on ways to optimize EMS within their own markets and to model success for other markets across the U.S.

CMS has a vision for a high-quality health care system in which patients receive better care, our health care dollars are spent more wisely, and people are healthier. In some instances, federal awards, such as those delivered via the CMS Innovation Center’s HCIA portfolio inform this vision. In the context of EMS specifically, HCIA is providing a pathway for key players in the EMS system – whether fire departments, non-profit EMS providers, or academic medical centers – to test new ways to deliver and pay for the rapidly changing face of pre-hospital care. Independent evaluations of the HCIA projects are ongoing. In the meantime, a wealth of learning is happening in the EMS world as a result of these projects. As similar innovations emerge across the country, we encourage EMS organizations to collect meaningful data that can be used to drive performance improvement, reduce costs, and most importantly, improve the health of communities in need.


The following experts contributed to this article:  Mollie Howerton, PhD, MPH, Division of Health Innovation and Integration, Preventive and Population Health Care Models Group, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services & Nevin Laib, PhD, Division of Stakeholder Engagement & Policy, Policy & Programs Group, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services & Tiffany McNair, MD, MPH, Director, Division of Health Innovation and Integration, Preventive and Population Health Care Models Group, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services & Darshak Sanghavi, MD, Group Director, Preventive and Population Health Care Models Group, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
May 20
Low Literacy Populations and Disaster Communications: 5 Ways to Bridge the Educational Divide

Here’s something to think about before you send your next message to your community: about half of your audience may not be able to read it. According to the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), one of the world’s largest literacy studies, over half of U.S. adults read at basic levels or below.

As disaster health professionals of all kinds know, disaster health and safety information tends to be complicated with lots of caveats and can require people to run through a pretty challenging set of tasks. They need to synthesize information, draw complex conclusions and integrate information. According to the PIAAC study, only 13 percent of U.S. adults read well enough to do those things.

Consider the study’s findings in light of risk communications literature. Risk communications studies show that in high-concern high-stress situations, the ability to process information – including written material – plummets.

Low-literacy rates + a high-stress situation = a monumental communication challenge.

To protect health, especially in disasters and other public health emergencies, the audience has to understand what we are trying to say well enough to take action. To communicate effectively and connect people with low literacy skills to critical information, we need to remember the basics:

  1. Team up with community groups. Talk with community organizations already working with low literacy populations to understand literacy levels in your community. Enlist community groups as focus groups to be sure your materials will be understood by people in your community, particularly those with limited reading proficiency.
  2. Put your content to the test. Test materials using a reading level measurement tool. Free online tools, such as the SMOG Readability CalculatorExit Icon, can check the reading level and provide suggestions to change the reading level. Don’t waste a lot of space on background information; just explain why taking action matters. Consider the common instructions on an airplane: put the mask on yourself before helping your child. Why? You’ll pass out in seconds, and your toddler can’t put the mask on you.
  3. Use infographics. Simple infographics illustrate your point making the message easier to understand. Crafting great infographics may require training and graphic design software but, first, try leveraging the creativity and enthusiasm of students or instructors at the community college or a local arts society. Graphic design or art students, instructors or enthusiasts may be willing to volunteer their time to create infographics in exchange for the ‘by-line’ or work with you for a lower cost than you would pay for training and software. Plus, involving community members helps spread the word about the topic.
  4. Use video. Be sure to test the reading level of the script and visually demonstrate your point. If your agency or organization doesn’t have professional video production capability or the funds to hire a crew, fear not. Check out the Disaster Public Service Announcement Library developed by CDC and ASPR for simple videos on a variety of emergency topics. Smart phones also offer basic video capability, and that “reality TV” look can still be effective in emergencies. Or, again, reach out in advance to students, teachers and community organizations for help producing videos.
  5. Use word-of-mouth. While social media stands out as the go-to, modern form of word-of-mouth, don’t discount the old-school method. Community meetings, information fairs, door-to-door canvassing, and speak engagements at worship services are effective in high-concern situations, even when your target audience includes the most avid readers. Add a COIN to your communication plan: a Communication Outreach Information Network of trusted people in the community willing to carry important emergency health messaging to hard-to-reach populations.

The global literacy study shows that people literacy is a challenge in every country and every language surveyed. Which means in the United States, we need to consider more than just limited English proficiency; we need to use the same techniques in all the languages spoken – or read – in our communities.

May 18
Older Adults: Include Connectedness in your Hurricane Plan

Hurricane season is fast approaching and disaster preparedness should be something that everybody, including older Americans, is thinking about. It only takes one hurricane to change your life and your community. But that one hurricane can do some serious damage, especially if you aren’t ready for it.

Bouncing back after a storm isn’t just a matter of rebuilding your home, cleaning up or treating injuries. Preparing to take care of your behavioral health needs is an important part of being ready for a storm, especially for older adults.

After a disaster, it is common for families and individuals to feel stress and anxiety over their health and safety – and this affects people in different ways. In some cases, this leads to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which can disrupt daily routines, and make it harder for many people to remember things or solve problems. If such mental health issues arise, there is help available 24/7 through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s disaster Distress Helpline (Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746).

So how can older adults make it more likely that they will be able to bounce back? A recent study shows that maintaining meaningful relationships and connecting with your friends, family and community before a disaster strikes can help you weather the storm.

The study, which was funded by HHS’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, examined 2,205 New Jersey residents between the ages of 54 and 80 who lived through Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Participants were asked about the severity of their exposure to the hurricane and how close-knit their community was, and what PTSD-type symptoms they suffered from eight to 33 months after the storm hit. The study found that the impact of the storm on PTSD symptoms was far less for people who had social support than those who did not. Essentially, having people in your life who will listen, give you advice, care, and be there for you if you need them matters.

These findings are particularly important for preparedness efforts because they suggest that those who feel more connected to friends, family and community are more likely to stay healthy or feel increased life satisfaction. As communities, our public health efforts need to focus on ways to increase support networks to promote disaster resilience. Participating in activities to foster civic engagement and social cohesion - both before and after a hurricane - are just a few ways that we can all take action and prevent post-traumatic stress in individuals.

As hurricane season approaches and you are getting ready, think about yourself, your friends and your family members, and consider the following questions: do you know your community members, do you know who needs the most help, do you think community members generally try to help each other out, and how attached are you to your community?

Also think about things that you can do to increase the level of mutual trust and support in the community. This month is also Older American’s month and this year’s theme is Blaze a Trail, which encourages activities, inclusion, and wellness for older Americans in your community. Consider blazing a trail toward civic engagement. Volunteering and community service are great ways older Americans can stay engaged in the community. In addition, sharing stories or participating in activities through local schools or special groups also can be good ways to stay active and involved in the community, and form new and lasting relationships.

If you are or know an older adult, use this month before hurricane season to make sure you are disaster-ready. Become more prepared and more connected to your friends, family, loved ones, and neighbors by sharing your evacuation plan, as well as any contingency plans for medications or medical devices that you may need in the event of an evacuation. Encourage your family and friends to check in regularly and know your routine. If you have older friends, plan together and be ready to check in on them as well. Participating in civic engagement and strengthening your ties to friends, family and community help you be better protected from physical or emotional harm.

If you are interested in learning more about social connectedness and resilience, please visit www.phe.gov/abc to find informative resources from HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

May 17
EMS Week 2016: Honoring those who Help Protect Health and Keep our Health Care System Strong

This week, May 15-21, 2016, we celebrate our Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals. The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) would like to take a moment to personally thank all EMS professionals for the essential role they play in protecting the health of our nation each and every day.

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Accidental Death and Disability: The Neglected Disease of Modern Society, the seminal work regarded by many as the catalyst for the development of modern day emergency medical services in the United States. This year also marks the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the EMS Agenda for the Future, another milestone that charted a path for the continued evolution of EMS and guided many of the changes of the past two decades.

We have not solved all of the challenges identified in 1966—or even in 1996—and our society now faces new risks and hazards not contemplated all those years ago. However, we have made tremendous strides. We have seen extraordinary advances in the pre-hospital care of trauma patients, improvements in the care of the victims of sudden cardiac arrest, and have seen exciting demonstrations of how EMS can expand roles to improve the health of the population. These advances translate into better care and healthier communities.

This week, we celebrate not only the EMS practitioners who selflessly serve us today, but those pioneers who built the foundation upon which our current system sits, as well as those who dedicate their work to further advance the field of EMS. Your work is an essential component of the health care system and your continued dedication to the field strengthens the health of Americans each day.

So from all of us here at ASPR, Thank you for your caring, your compassion, and your commitment.

May 16
Updating the EMS Agenda for the Future: The Search for Data-Driven Approaches to Improvement

The emergency medical services (EMS) community is working to find collaborative solutions to some very tough questions so that they can better provide quality care during disasters and every day. For example, how can EMS professionals quickly access critical medical information on a patient with the current fragmented system of medical records? How can the system surge effectively and pull in people from other states in the face of interstate credentialing requirements? What are the opportunities for EMS to improve community health beyond emergency response?

These are just some of the issues that the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agenda for the Future wants to address in its next iteration.

In 1996, key industry stakeholders from a broad multi-disciplinary spectrum developed the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Agenda for the Future. This agenda painted a vision of an EMS system focused on community-based health management that is fully integrated with the overall health care system. The agenda has offered guidance to EMS providers, healthcare organizations, policy makers, and governmental entities over the last two decades to help make that vision a reality.

This document has been a fundamental component of EMS initiatives across the federal government, and has led to many successes, including the creation of the National EMS Information System, EMS Core Content, EMS Scope of Practice Model, EMS Educational Standards, EMS Workforce for the 21st Century, a National EMS Research Agenda, and the publication of EMS Education Agenda for the Future.

But now it is time for us to get some new ideas on approaching the issues facing EMS, improving those services, and setting a course for the further evolution of EMS systems.

The Federal Interagency Committee on Emergency Medical Services (FICEMS) supports a major revision of the EMS Agenda for the Future. With the new revision, ASPR plans to work closely in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and other federal partners, along with external EMS stakeholders to develop an agenda to guide the evolution of EMS systems over the next 30 years.

ASPR and HHS are committed to the integration of emergency medical services into a better, smarter, and healthier healthcare system. We are excited to strengthen EMS every day, and the role of EMS during disaster and public health emergency preparedness, response, and recovery.

Current healthcare reform efforts make this an opportune time to continue advancing EMS and working towards integration of the emergency care system into the broader healthcare system. EMS Week is a perfect time to reflect on how emergency medical services are an integral part of healthcare delivery system reform.

NHTSA, on behalf of FICEMS, is leading the charge to gain public comment on the announcement. NHTSA is looking for input on finding data-driven approaches to future improvements.

Do you have ideas on making the system better? Get details on the solicitation of comments and submit your ideas by June 30, 2016. As we take the time this week to recognize the work that EMS practitioners do every day to protect health and save lives, it is important to consider what future of EMS could entail.

May 12
Zika and Pregnancy:  6 Tips for Staying Healthy

Get the Facts. Take Precautions. Manage Stress. Be Well.

If you’re pregnant or you’re thinking about starting a family, then you probably know that stress during pregnancy is normal, but that too much stress is not healthy for your pregnancy. The emergence of Zika virus can be an additional unsettling consideration for those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant.

Zika is serious and it can hurt your baby. Zika virus can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus and infection during pregnancy can cause a serious birth defect of the brain called microcephaly as well as other severe brain defects. Right now, Zika is not being spread by mosquitoes in the United States, though local mosquito-borne transmission of Zika virus has been reported in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

Take steps to get the facts about the disease, and how to prevent infection. Managing stress is important for promoting healthier pregnancies, healthier births, and better long-term health outcomes for families.

Here are 6 things that you can do to protect your health and your baby’s health:

  1. Get the Facts: There’s a lot of information out there on Zika – and not all of it is accurate. Learn about Zika from credible sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  2. Protect Your Pregnancy: Learn how to protect yourself from getting infected with Zika. Take steps to avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes by wearing long-sleeved clothing and using an EPA-registered insect repellent. If you are pregnant, don’t travel to areas where there is local transmission of Zika. If your partner has traveled to an area where Zika is being spread by mosquitoes, take steps to avoid sexual transmission by either using condoms or refraining from sex for the duration of the pregnancy.

  3. Talk to Your Healthcare Provider: Keep up with your prenatal care appointments and talk with your doctor, midwife or other trusted healthcare provider about concerns, especially if you and/or your partner traveled to an area with Zika.

  4. Stay informed – selectively: Understanding Zika and getting the facts can help you make healthy choices to prevent Zika. But if you are overwhelmed with concerns about the Zika virus disease, take a break from news coverage.

  5. Take Care of Yourself: Make sure that you are taking care of yourself – in both mind and body. Take time to exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and take time for things that you enjoy and that help reduce stress. Sometimes that can be as simple as taking a minute to just breathe.

  6. Talk to Someone: If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, reach out to friends and family for support. If your concerns about Zika and your health and wellbeing begin to interfere with your daily activities, disrupt your sleep, or cause you to feel overwhelmed, you might want to reach out to a counselor or a mental health professional for support. This fact sheet on how to cope with stress during infectious disease outbreaks may help you recognize signs of stress and when to ask for help.

If you know someone who is pregnant and worried about Zika, help them learn how they can best protect themselves against possible infection. Help them get the facts – you can start by sharing this blog.

Taking precautions to protect your pregnancy from Zika and managing stress are important ways to help promote a healthier pregnancy, healthier birth, and a better outcome for your family.

May 11
Puerto Rico MRC Unit Engages the Whole Community to Fight Zika

As the threat of Zika looms, how do we reach the people in our communities with accurate health information that motivates them to act? The Puerto Rico Medical Reserve Corps (PR MRC) starts with partnerships.

The PRMRC is focusing on community education to help people understand how Zika virus could impact their health. By creating and leveraging partnerships within their community, PRMRC members are finding ways to deliver important health information to the community through messengers that it already trusts.

These trusted messengers include the PR MRC volunteers themselves. As part of the response, PR MRC volunteers have gone door to door, starting conversations on Zika. The visits were part of a pilot project to educate pregnant women, their families and neighbors to understand their needs and behaviors regarding the Zika Virus.

PR MRC volunteers are medical professionals who have been working in the community for years and they make great messengers as trusted health professionals. This is not the PR MRC’s first response to a mosquito borne threat. They have helped promote health in their community during outbreaks of chikungunya and dengue.

PRMRC Volunteers working together PRMRC Volunteer Briefing PRMRC Volunteer

But the PR MRC unit knew that it couldn’t get the word out on their own, so they partnered with people throughout their communities – like leaders in faith-based communities and public housing projects; nurses; faculty from the local universities; and more.

In times of stress, people often turn to leaders in their communities, and PR MRC volunteers are working to make sure that community leaders have the facts and are prepared to spread accurate information. PR MRC is working to integrate skill from throughout the community into a more effective response.

Through these partnerships, they are teaching people how to avoid getting infected and they are helping the community learn about vector control to prevent the spread of the disease.

By partnering with the whole community, the PR MRC unit can engage more people, train them more effectively, and increase participation. All of their partners have special skills and they touch the community in different ways.

This response has given many PR MRC volunteers an opportunity to make people healthier as part of the overall response to Zika – and many volunteers are extremely proud of the work that they are doing.

“As a nurse I thought that I was going to spend my life in a clinic scenario, but as an MRC member the contributions that I do for the community are incredible. I am part of the response, and this is very important. I now look at myself differently,” said Ricardo de Jesús, a PR MRC volunteer.

If you are a health or emergency management professional that is planning for Zika, contact your local MRC. MRC volunteers not only make great partners in public health response, but they also can help promote better overall health in your community every day.

May 06
Public Health Nurses on the Front Line in Flint

Families in Flint, Michigan are experiencing a public health crisis resulting from elevated lead levels in drinking water On January 19, President Obama designated the HHS as the lead Federal agency responsible for coordinating Federal support for response and recovery efforts in Flint. As part of the response, federal agencies provided technical assistance to aid the county in establishing processes to enroll children with high blood lead levels in case management and helped the county contact families to enroll eligible children.​

Public Health Nurses in Flint For parents of children in Flint with high lead levels, getting their kids on a path to a healthier childhood means answering a lot of tough questions. How do I reduce lead levels in my home? What assistance programs can I use? What can I do to help my child?

Public health nurses used their skills to serve as case managers to help these families find answers to these very tough questions.

We are two of the nurse case managers from CDC who have been deployed to serve in Flint – Nurse Danielle comes from Alaska and Nurse Loretta is from Georgia. We worked with families of children who have been diagnosed with high blood lead levels.

Some of the people in Flint can be hard to reach. So our first job was to establish a connection. Sometimes that meant calling them on the phone, sometimes that was a home visit, and sometimes we used text messaging. We worked to meet people where they were and to communicate in a way that worked for them.

Once we established a connection, we started developing a relationship. We wanted the families to know that they could trust us to answer their questions honestly and help them find solutions.

As nurses, we provided families with the information they needed to help them make better choices about mitigating lead exposure. We could see the stress that Flint families are enduring, and we were extra careful to make sure that we provided compassion and empathy to help them get through a tough situation.

Identifying and reducing sources of lead in Flint is a real challenge – there are a lot of things that Flint families can do and there’s a lot to learn. We showed people how to clean their aerators and install water filters. We taught them about other common sources of lead in their homes. Many Flint homes still have lead paint and the dirt that kids play in may be contaminated with lead. We helped families understand many different things in their homes that could be contributing to their child’s blood lead levels. We talked with families about steps they can take to limit exposure to lead and about how good nutrition can help decrease lead levels in children’s bodies.

We also helped connect families with federal programs - like Head Start, Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Medicaid – that provide assistance to help Flint children overcome the effects of lead. Navigating these programs can hard. We helped guide families through the process.

Some families in Flint don’t have the resources to access the assistance programs that are available to them. Free water filters or medical coverage doesn’t do much good if a person can’t get to a distribution center or a doctor. For families that don’t have a car, this can be a real challenge. So we helped out by providing bus passes or by bringing filters to their homes.

Nurse case managers from CDC, FDA, Indian Health Service, and Health Resources and Services Administration worked to help children in Flint live healthier lives – but our deployment was temporary. We worked side by side with our fantastic colleagues at the Genesee County Health Department to reach out to more than 375 families.

Now, through a contract with the state, other case management staff will provide continuity of care, working with the county health department and the community every day.

So what have nurse case managers done to help people in Flint? We have been advocates for families and for health. We’ve been a link to bring resources to the people who need them. We’ve been caring spirits listening to patients and helping them work through challenges. We provided a kind word and helped families work through their health challenges when it seemed like there are obstacles that patients can’t get past.

Nurses are helping people in their communities every day in so many ways – some that you could probably guess, but some that you might not know about. During National Nurses Week, take a moment to thank a nurse in your community for all of the ways that they protect health and save lives every day.

April 22
The link between our planet’s health and our own wellbeing

Earth day is a day to celebrate our amazing planet and to take time to pay attention to its inhabitants’ health and wellbeing. On April 4, 2016 the White House released its findings on the intersection of environment and human health in its new report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment.  Many people already knew that climate change brings with it increased sea level rise, extreme weather events, vector-borne illness, extreme temperatures and more. 

But did you know that climate change also affects your mental health?

The things that impact our physical health, including climate change, also affect our mental health and wellbeing. The report includes a chapter on  Mental Health and Wellbeing that identifies four key findings which may help health and emergency management professionals plan for the mental health consequences of climate change, especially for individuals in communities with more frequent severe weather or climate-related events.

Exposure to Disasters Results in Mental Health Consequences
Key Finding 1:
Many people exposed to climate-related or weather-related disasters experience stress and serious mental health consequences. Depending on the type of the disaster, these consequences include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and general anxiety, which often occur at the same time. The majority of affected people recover over time, although a significant proportion of exposed individuals develop chronic psychological dysfunction.

Specific Groups of People Are at Higher Risk
Key Finding 2:
Specific groups of people are at higher risk for distress and other adverse mental health consequences from exposure to climate-related or weather-related disasters. These groups include children, the elderly, women (especially pregnant and post-partum women), people with preexisting mental illness, the economically disadvantaged, the homeless, and first responders. Communities that rely on the natural environment for sustenance and livelihood, as well as populations living in areas most susceptible to specific climate change events, are at increased risk for adverse mental health outcomes.

Climate Change Threats Result in Mental Health Consequences and Social Impacts
Key Finding 3:
Many people will experience adverse mental health outcomes and social impacts from the threat of climate change, the perceived direct experience of climate change, and changes to one’s local environment. Media and popular culture representations of climate change influence stress responses and mental health and well-being.

Extreme Heat Increases Risks for People with Mental Illness
Key Finding 4:
People with mental illness are at higher risk for poor physical and mental health due to extreme heat. Increases in extreme heat will increase the risk of disease and death for people with mental illness, including elderly populations and those taking prescription medications that impair the body’s ability to regulate temperature.

So, as you consider the best way to celebrate Earth Day, take a moment to reflect on how you can take action to support your own mental health and the mental health of other people in your family or community. Research indicates that the more engaged you are with your community, the more resilient you and your community will be when faced with challenges.

April 08
Young, Creative Producers Show How They Prepare! Cast your ballot for the best video!

The entries are in and now it’s your time to choose.  Who’s got the best preparedness story?  You tell us!

Students across the country are helping to make the nation more prepared for disasters.  They are encouraging their families and communities to make healthier, safer and smarter choices.   Many of them told us how as part of the My Preparedness Story: Staying Healthy and Resilient Video Challenge.

Over the course of the last three months, over 75 students have answered the challenge by making their own shorts – 60 second videos – showing how they help protect health during disasters and every day. Now, we need your help to decide who has the best story!

Students have so many compelling stories to share about preparing themselves and their communities to stay healthy when disaster strikes.  They help their families make emergency kits and plans.  They organize emergency drills and blood drives.  They volunteer with great organizations like the Medical Reserve Corps. They choose career paths that can give them the skills that they will need to act when seconds count.

You can check out their stories on your computer, tablet or smart phone – just visit challenge.gov, and click on Solutions to view all entries.

Who you think has the best preparedness story?  Whose story was most engaging?  Most exciting? Most original?  Who inspires others to take action?  Who should win best picture for preparedness?

Voting is easy.  Visit challenge.gov and once on the main page, click on the Solutions tab on the left hand side to view all entries. Once there, you will see 5 grayed out stars for voting – simply move your cursor over the stars and select 1-5.

Let us know what you decide and help a young producer – or team – win the challenge.  In addition to bragging rights, the top prize winner will receive a $2,000 prize and the video could be used to inspire others take actions to prepare themselves and their communities so that they are ready when disaster strikes.

Don't delay!  Cast your ballot by April 22, 2016!

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