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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: Public Health Preparedness

Health Care Coalition Response Leadership Course

Author: Richard C. Hunt, MD, FACEP, Senior Medical Advisor, National Healthcare Preparedness Programs HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 7/18/2019 9:06:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

From Penguins to Practical Solutions that Enhance Disaster Response

Teams that perform well have a shared mental model of success. Think about penguins. In the waters of Antarctica, penguins form groups to perform a complex task: get food in a chaotic environment with competing demands. But, all of these penguins are operating with a shared idea of success: fish for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch…). Healthcare coalitions often don’t have that level of clarity and that can be a real problem. When their teams come together, they often don’t agree on  Read more…

Teaching Life-saving Skills in Minutes

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 7/3/2019 5:02:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers Empower Communities using Stop the Bleed Training

Last month, teams of volunteers from Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units across the country taught life-saving skills to the people in their communities as part of Stop the Bleed month. The MRC is a national network of local groups of volunteers engaging local communities to strengthen public health, reduce vulnerability, build resilience, and improve preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. These volunteers dedicated more than 780 hours to training peop  Read more…

Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act 2019: What Does It Mean for Me and My Organization?

Author: By Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/25/2019 10:54:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

At ASPR, we’re excited about the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPAIA), which the president signed last night. The new law strengthens public health and healthcare readiness, bolsters response and recovery programs, and increases transparency. What do the changes mean for our non-federal partners? We see some key provisions that can significantly improve preparedness and response for our partners.

Improving preparedness

PAHPAIA authorized a funding increase for the Hospital Pr  Read more…

Building a Better Network: Four Ways to Make Critical Connections Your Facility Could Rely on During a Medical Supply Shortage

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Michael Eltringham, Stakeholder Engagement Analyst, ASPR Critical Infrastructure Protection Program Contract Support
Published Date: 6/13/2019 8:26:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

When Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, one unexpected challenge faced by the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector was maintaining production of medical gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and argon on the island of Puerto Rico. The power needs for such an operation exceeded available generators; so, for the duration of electricity outages in the area, novel plans had to be devised for the challenging transport and distribution of products across the island.

Partners from the gas manufacturers, healthcare facilities, and the federal and territorial government closely coordinated   Read more…

Capacity-Building Toolkit for Including Aging and Disability Networks in Emergency Planning

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Senior Advisor for At-Risk Individuals, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 5/13/2019 11:03:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

Today, older adults and people with disabilities are better able to remain in their homes and live independently, thanks in part to the work of Community Based Organizations (CBOs).  But when disasters strike, older adults and people with disabilities are among the hardest hit and they may not be able to effectively respond to, cope with, and recover from a disaster. If you are a part of the aging and disability networks, planning for disasters and emergencies and establishing the partnerships needed to better serve the people who rely on you can be daunting.  How  Read more…

Project BioShield: Enhancing Preparedness, Ensuring Treatment Options

Author: Brian Tse, Oxana Selivanova, Claiborne Hughes, and Mark Albrecht
Published Date: 5/13/2019 9:42:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;


Stockpiling Novel Antibiotics Safeguards Nation, Sustains Commitment to Industry

Bacteria evolve and change, becoming more dangerous and deadly, and often developing resistance to existing medical countermeasures. Consider some of the resistance problems we face today. In recent years, we’ve seen increasing incidences of multi-drug resistant salmonella, gonorrhea, and typhoid, just to name a few examples. Now, think about what would happen if evolution or terrorists created antibiotic-resistant strains of biothreat agents, such as anthrax, plague, tularemia, mel  Read more…

Help guide the future of disaster health readiness, response, and recovery

Author: Christopher L. Perdue, MD, MPH, Commander (CDR), US Public Health Service, Senior Policy Coordinator, HHS/ASPR Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements
Published Date: 5/7/2019 4:05:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

HHS seeks outside experts for national advisory committee

Disaster readiness, response, and recovery are complex and the threats involved continue to evolve. The nation faces a myriad of potentially challenging health effects following a disaster. The HHS Secretary depends on the advice, expertise, and counsel of outside experts from the National Biodefense Science Board for recommendations to help make complex decisions and guide the future of disaster health preparedness, response, and recovery. Participating on the board provides a unique way to get involved in pu  Read more…

The Intersection of Hurricane Response and Opioid Use Disorder

Author: Rachel Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Advisor for Behavioral Health, HHS/ASPR Emergency Management and Medical Operations
Published Date: 5/6/2019 8:38:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Observances;

What Disaster Responders, Healthcare Professionals, and Disaster Relief Service Providers Need to Know

Hurricane season is just around the corner.  If you are thinking about ways to prepare for the next hurricane, take a moment to consider this:  approximately 2.1 million people have an opioid use disorder according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and over 47,000 of them died by overdose in 2017 according to a  Read more…

New Training to Enhance Disaster Health Outcomes for Your Whole Community

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 4/12/2019 3:27:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Free online training focuses on helping people with access and functional needs


In planning for the whole community’s needs during a disaster, consider that on any given day, approximately half of the U.S. population has a temporary or permanent condition that limits their ability to take action in an emergency. Simply put – they have access and functional needs (AFN).

Addressing access and functional needs is a crucial part of comprehensive disaster planning for the whole community and is mandated for inclusion in federal, state,  Read more…

Preparing for a Potential Domestic Ebola Outbreak

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 3/15/2019 2:11:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Enhancing U.S. Healthcare System Preparedness and Public Health Emergency Response Capabilities

Blog Series:  Battling the Ebola Epidemic

An Ebola outbreak that began more than seven months ago continues to claim lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Although international response efforts are underway to contain the outbreak at its source and prevent the spread of the disease to other countries, we must always be prepared for the possibility of an Ebola case in the United States.

<  Read more…

Combating and Containing the Ebola Outbreak

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 3/14/2019 4:13:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

ASPR’s Strategic Approach to Ebola Medical Countermeasure Development and Utilization in the 2018 Ebola Outbreak

Blog Series:  Battling the Ebola Epidemic

Ebola reemerged as a health threat in 2018, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where two outbreaks of Ebola virus disease have occurred since May 2018. The first of these two outbreaks, in western DRC, was quickly contained. However, the second outbreak, in eastern DRC, has yet to be contained due in large part to the volatile security situa  Read more…

National Disaster Medical System: Bringing More Than Teams of Professional Medical Providers

Author: Ron Miller, Ph.D., Director, National Disaster Medical System, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/13/2019 10:35:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) has a heroic, yet complex, mission to save lives and protect Americans. When disaster strikes, it’s potentially the worst day in the lives of hundreds – if not thousands – of people. Therefore, our mobilization, implementation, and execution need to be streamlined and seamless.

However, we never rest on our laurels. We are constantly training and identifying gaps within the preparedness and response framework to better mobilize when the inevitable ultimately occurs. NDMS has identified three pillars to expand the service’s c  Read more…

Whole-of-Government Approach: What It Means and How It Translates to Improving National Health Security

Author: Daniel Dodgen, Ph.D., Senior Advisor, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/6/2019 9:46:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

National Health Security Strategy Blog Series: Part 2

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has published its quadrennial strategy to safeguard the nation’s health in times of crisis. The 2019-2022 National Health Security Strategy (NHSS) provides a vision to strengthen the nation’s ability to prevent, detect, assess, prepare for, mitigate, respond to, and recover from disasters and emergencies.

The new strategy focuses on three overarching objectives: 1) prepare, mobilize, and co  Read more…

Four Ways to Plan to Protect Patient Health in a Medical Supply Shortage

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Michael Eltringham, Stakeholder Engagement Analyst, ASPR Critical Infrastructure Protection Program Contract Support
Published Date: 1/25/2019 11:59:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

Blog Series: Anticipating and Managing the Challenges Associated with Supply Shortages

According to FDA, there are currently 109 drugs in shortage in the U.S. Supply shortages threaten patient health even in the best circumstances, but their number and impact can be exacerbated by a prolonged disaster response. With so many shortages, one is likely to impact your hospital or healthcare facility at some point.  By planning to cope with the impacts of a supply shor  Read more…

The HPH RISC Toolkit: A No-Cost Risk Assessment for Your Healthcare Facility

Author: Brittney Seiler and Michael Eltringham, HHS ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP)
Published Date: 1/17/2019 4:13:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

Managing risk is one of the most complex and critical aspects of running a healthcare facility. The goal of the Healthcare and Public Health Risk Identification and Site Criticality Toolkit (HPH RISC Toolkit) is simple: make that task easier – at no cost to the facilities.

The ASPR RISC Toolkit is a cost-effective, objective, data-driven, all-hazards risk assessment tool. It allows your facility to determine its ability to withstand a variety of 21st century health security threats, including chemical, b  Read more…

National Health Security Shapes Federal Approach to Evolving Threats

Author: Darrin Donato, Senior Policy Analyst for the Office of Strategy, Policy, Planning, and Requirements within HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/16/2019 12:02:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Like others around the world, the United States faces diverse and evolving health security threats with the potential to disrupt public health and health care systems and inflict injury and loss of life. To drive U.S. actions to prepare, respond, and recover in the face of modern health security threats, Congress mandated a quadrennial National Health Security Strategy (NHSS).

The 2019-2022 NHSS assesses the current and future threat environment and outlines how the federal government will address vulnerabilities and gaps in public health and health care capabilities.  Read more…

Three Perspectives on Volunteering, Growth and Service with the Medical Reserve Corps

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 12/3/2018 12:28:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As the holidays approach, many people are thinking about ways that they can give back to their communities and help others. Volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a great way to help your community become healthier – during disasters and every day. Across the country, MRC units offer both medical and non-medical volunteers opportunities to serve people in their communities and a chance to network with other volunteers, learn new skills through training, and gain experience in emergency management and response.

Approximately 190,000 people volunteer with  Read more…

Four Ways to Enhance Language Access during Disaster Response and Recovery

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, PhD, Senior Advisor for At-Risk Individuals, Senior Policy Analyst Neelam Salman, JD, Civil Rights Analyst Amit S. Zigelman, MPH, Management Analyst
Published Date: 11/29/2018 5:14:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Creating Disaster Health Communications Your Community Can Understand

You probably know that your community includes people who find it difficult to speak, read or understand English, and it’s easy to underestimate the diversity of language access needs in our communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 350 languages are spoken across the country. In addition, about 15 percent of American adults report some trouble hearing, 8.1 million people across the  Read more…

Building hope while rebuilding health and social services: a year after the historic 2017 hurricanes

Author: Josh Barnes, HHS/ASPR Recovery Director
Published Date: 9/20/2018 3:57:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Observances;

Disaster anniversaries can be difficult emotionally for survivors and responders alike. As the months and years go by, the television cameras and the imagery of destruction often leave the airwaves far earlier than when the effects of the disaster are resolved. As national attention fades, the communities must sustain their momentum with a focused recovery effort, which can be complicated and frustrating.

Disaster anniversaries are also opportunities for noting progress and ultimately…for hope because residents and leaders saw disaster recovery as an opportunity to learn fr  Read more…

Modernizing the National Disaster Medical System to Meet the Health Security Threats of the 21st Century

Author: Ron Miller, Acting Director for the National Disaster Medical System within the Emergency Management and Medical Operations Division at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 9/4/2018 4:03:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

In 2017, our nation suffered three back-to-back hurricanes that caused catastrophic damage in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. That experience highlighted the importance of the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – a federally coordinated system that augments the Nation's medical response capability during times of disasters or public health emergencies. ASPR, the government agency overseeing NDMS, deployed more than 4,600 personnel and 944 tons of medical supplies and equipment to treat app  Read more…

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