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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Regional Emergency Coordinators Overview

Regional Emergency Coordinators (RECs) serve as ASPR’s primary representatives throughout the country at the regional level. Building relationships with federal, state, local, tribal and territorial officials and healthcare representatives (partners and stakeholders) in order to conduct planning for effective federal emergency response, and to facilitate coordinated preparedness and response activities for public health and medical emergencies, is the main role of the RECs.  This is accomplished in a variety of ways to include: enhancing cross discipline integration among public health and medical and emergency management partners; providing situational awareness to headquarters;  responding  to events and providing command and control for deployed Departmental resources and assets; and providing exercise support  to stakeholders.  

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) and its predecessor organizations has placed emergency coordinators in each of the Health and Human Services (HHS) regions for over 15 years.  Today, there are RECs throughout the country, and each region has its own unique regional preparedness concerns.

With a wide variety of backgrounds including healthcare, emergency management, environmental health, public administration, human services, public health, and engineering, the RECs offer a wealth of skills and experience in emergency planning and response. For more information about the program, please contact us using the Regional Emergency Coordinators Comment Form.

In 2010 the Regional Emergency Coordination Program distinguished itself with an unprecedented response to one of the most complex human catastrophes of the modern era, the Haiti earthquake.  With an estimated 222,570 dead, 300,000 injured and 1.3 million displaced people the REC Program led the US Government’s health and medical field response.      The complexities of this response ranged from provision of medical care in the austere Haitian environment to reception and repatriation of the remains of American citizens lost in the catastrophic event.   Not only did the Haiti disaster overwhelm the national resources of the island nation but its consequences spanned the Caribbean to the shores of the United States where evacuated patients were received at American hospitals. In every theater of operations RECs were providing leadership and coordinating activities.  They effectively coordinated and integrated US medical response teams into the overall relief effort by working with non government organizations, military commands, the Haitian ministry of health, multiple levels of government as well as the United Nations and World Health Organization.

Three months following the Haiti earthquake the REC Program found itself in a completely different kind of disaster when a methane gas explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig killed 11 workers and started a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that would last until August.  This was the first environmental disaster that the REC Program had responded to.  RECs served as liaisons to the Louisiana and Texas State Health Departments, coordinated medical screenings and directed NDMS response teams.  Once again the REC program demonstrated its flexibility to respond professionally in the all hazards environment.  One of the program’s core strengths remains its ability to bridge the gap between overwhelmed State and local health and medical resources and integrate Federal resources into disaster impact zones.

A summary of REC direct support of response and recovery operations is:

  • New England Floods
  • New Bedford Chemical response to chemical agent
  • Hurricane Earl
  • Haiti Earthquake Response
  • Haiti Repatriation and Domestic Response
  • Flooding Red River, ND
  • H1N1 Vaccination Team in US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and American Samoa
  • Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Gulf of Mexico
  • Hurricane Alex
  • Flooding, Fargo, ND
  • Flooding, Devils Lake
  • Flooding, Rocky Boys Tribe 
  • Hurricane Sandy
  • Boston Marathon Bombing

Direct support of National Security Special Events

  • Central America and Caribbean Games
  • Global Nuclear Summit
  • National Capitol Independence Day Celebration
  • World Equestrian Games
  • Winter Olympics

 

  • This page last reviewed: January 22, 2014