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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary's Operations Center's Role in ESF-8

Emergency Support Function (ESF) 8: Public Health and Medical Services provides the mechanism for coordinated Federal assistance to supplement State, tribal, and local resources in response to a public health and medical event/potential or actual incidents requiring a coordinated Federal response, and/or during a developing potential health and medical emergency.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services leads the ESF 8 response. ESF 8, when activated, is coordinated by the ASPR. Once activated, ESF 8 functions are coordinated by the Emergency Management Group (EMG) through the Secretary's Operations Center (SOC). During the initial activation, HHS conducts audio and video conference calls with the ESF 8 supporting departments and agencies, and public health and medical representatives from federal, state,  tribal and private sector officials, to discuss the situation and coordinate the initial federal public health and medical response actions.

The Emergency Management Group (EMG), operating from the HHS Secretary’s Operations Center (SOC), coordinates the overall national ESF 8 response for the ASPR, providing strategic level planning and operational/logistical oversight for the deployment of ESF 8 resources in the region. The SOC maintains communications with the National Operations Center (NOC), the FEMA National Regional Coordination Center (NRCC) and other Operations centers as required to support the mission.   The SOC is structurally aligned with the NOC during day to day operations, and during times of activation, is closely aligned with the alert and activation sequencing of the NRCC.

As the lead agency for ESF 8, HHS is responsible for providing supplemental assistance to state, local, tribal and territorial governments in response to potential or actual public health medical disasters or emergencies, and natural disasters requiring a coordinated Federal response. The SOC is a multi-agency operations center whose mission is to facilitate information sharing and operations coordination with other operations centers, provide domestic and international situational awareness to senior leadership and serves as the organizational hub of any required federal public health response under ESF-8. In addition, the EMG provides a vehicle to coordinate ESF 6 and ESF 14 missions and assists in overseeing deployment of personnel, conference calls and other requirements. 

  • This page last reviewed: May 14, 2013