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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The EMS Evolution to Improve Prehospital Care

Author: Edward J. Gabriel, MPA, EMT-P, CEM, CBCP Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/19/2017 4:04:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Observances;

As a career-long paramedic and certified emergency manager, I’m very excited about the trends I see in EMS. This is a dynamic field. Over the last 50 years, the U.S. has made incredible progress in Emergency Medical Services – better known by the acronym EMS. EMS professionals built a strong system that’s always in service, available 24/7 in nearly every community across the country…and help is just a 3-digit call away. EMS professionals have driven dramatic changes in technology and prehospital medicine, professional education and the way emergency medical services are managed to   Read more…

Preparing to Meet the Needs of Pediatric Patients in Disasters: Progress and the Path Forward

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals, Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience (ABC)
Published Date: 5/17/2017 4:03:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

Many parts of the health systems that we rely on to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters were designed with adults in mind; however, nearly 25% of the people in the U.S. are children. Children’s disaster health needs may be different from those of adults. For example, medications developed for adults may require different dosages or formulations to be safe for children to take. Children also process information and cope with disasters differently than adults. The list of differences goes on and on.

By working together, HHS is finding solutions to problems   Read more…

How Students Can Empower Their Communities to Protect Against Zika

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 5/17/2017 10:29:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Warm spring temperatures often bring fun outdoor activities for many people across the country. Those warm temperatures also usher in mosquito season and the diseases, like Zika, that some mosquitoes carry. That’s why everyone should take steps to protect against mosquito bites.

Students likely have heard about Zika on the news, social media, or possibly even in school classes over the past year, but they may not know about the potential risk to their own community and what they can do to educate friends, family members, and neighbors about what we can all do to help prevent  Read more…

The Link between Mental and Behavioral Health and National Health Security: 3 Key Planning Considerations

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 5/10/2017 4:28:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Our physical and psychological well-being are inseparable. Yet people often think only of physical health when they think about national health security. The connection with mental and behavioral health may not jump to the forefront. Yet, much of the work in this field and the needs of a community during and after a disaster demonstrate the importance of mental and behavioral health to our nation’s health security. Making sure these services are available during and after emergencies can help communities recover more quickly.

Community health resilience is the cornerstone of  Read more…

Strength in Numbers: Community Preparedness Partnerships

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 5/3/2017 2:18:00 PM
Category: National Health Security;

New partnerships between organizations are an essential part of advancing national health security. Joint efforts allow participating organizations to minimize their weaknesses and augment their strengths. One of the quickest and easiest ways a government agency specifically can expand its capabilities is to collaborate with another entity with that specific expertise, building new relationships in the process.

According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, that’s what the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) did when it combine  Read more…

How my fraternity’s commitment to service launched community health fairs and improved national health security

Author: Okey K. Enyia, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst, Aveshka, Inc., Division of Policy and Strategic Planning, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 4/26/2017 9:54:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

In the fall of 1997, I became a proud member of a Greek-letter fraternity at my university in Illinois, and I’m now a member of an alumni chapter in Prince George’s County, Maryland. One of the fraternity’s objectives is to provide voice and vision to the struggle of African Americans and people of color around the world.

  Read more…

Medical Reserve Corps: Building Bridges to Promote Health Security for Every Community

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 4/19/2017 4:41:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Did you know that your zip code can be a predictor of your health? So can your place of birth, where you work and play, your income and education, as well as the choices you make each day about what you eat, when to exercise, and whether or not to see a doctor. These factors, recognized by public health professionals as social determinants of health, are linked to inequities in health and healthcare (health disparities) that disproportionately affect racial and   Read more…

How forming a neighborhood sports team improved community resilience and national health security

Author: Jay Petillo, Director, ASPR Office of Financial Planning and Analysis
Published Date: 4/12/2017 2:44:00 PM
Category: National Health Security;

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years coaching my kids’ ball teams in the neighborhood, basketball for my girls and baseball for my son. I’m a sports guy so it was a lot of fun. But I never really thought about how what I was doing actually affected national health security.

We have a good-sized  neighborhood and when we started the basketball team, not everyone knew each other. Through the team, the kids got to be friends and so did all the parents. We ended up with a really strong social network. With a lot of parents working, you all take turns getting kids   Read more…

Connecting Neighbors in Need to Loved Ones: Communications after Superstorm Sandy

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 4/5/2017 5:12:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

During or after a disaster, being able to get in touch with either emergency services or family members and loved ones can make all the difference in health resilience. When Hurricane Sandy hit the New York metro area in October of 2012, it left severe damage in its wake. Tens of thousands of area residents were displaced or without power. Many roads were impassable due to damage or debris. Communications infrastructure was damaged beyond immediate repair. Therefore thousands of people were unable to get in contact with their loved ones to make sure they were okay or to see  Read more…

For national health security, local capability is key

Author: Jack Herrmann, M.S.Ed., N.C.C., L.M.H.C, Deputy Director, ASPR Office of Policy and Planning
Published Date: 4/3/2017 11:30:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

When you think about how to create a uniform sense of safety and security to protect our nation's health in times of disaster, you really need to look at capabilities at the local level. The things local and state health departments do every single day to make our lives healthier, safer and better also are fundamental to our national health security. Local and state health departments often are the first to detect that “something's going on” and are on the front lines of the fight against public health threats.

Health departments’ every day activities can help mitiga  Read more…

Powering the next generation of antibacterial innovation to enhance national security

Author: Tyler Merkeley, MS, MBA, CARB-X Program Manager, BARDA
Published Date: 3/30/2017 11:50:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; National Health Security;

It’s about the people. Picture a worried mother from Arizona walking into the hospital with her 11-year-old daughter. The girl had gone from tired to intense hip pain and a high fever in just a few days. A blood test revealed a potentially fatal condition called sepsis from a Staphylococcus infection. The infection had begun as an abscess in her hip muscle, spread into her blood, and eventually caused a devastating antibiotic-resistant bacterial pneumonia in her lungs.

Mom sat day-in and day-out watching her daughter’s health rapidly fade; tubes ran all over her body, and a   Read more…

Tails from the Field: An Unusual Ambassador for Preparedness

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 3/23/2017 11:23:00 AM
Category: National Health Security;

He’s been called “Fred’s driver.” He’s been called “that guy.” Michael McNulty, emergency operations director for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), says that’s OK because Fred the Preparedness Dog is the one spreading the message of safety and resilience.

After Fred, McNulty’s German Shepherd, took shelter in the bathtub on a stormy day in 2013, his owner gave him a backpack with emergency supplies and promoted a picture on social media. “Having worked in emergency preparedness for ten years, I saw something more in that picture: Fred was doing a go  Read more…

From Concept to Operations: Building Disaster Health Resilience in one of America’s Largest Communities

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 3/17/2017 11:05:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

If you want to take your disaster health security plans from paper to practice you need to involve the community – no matter what the size. But when your community is large, diverse and vulnerable to a wide array of threats, community engagement becomes even more important. Los Angeles is the second largest city in the U.S. and it is vulnerable to 13 of the 16  Read more…

Strengthening Global Health Security: A 17-Year Partnership

Author: Division of International Heath Security
Published Date: 3/8/2017 6:07:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

In 2009, the influenza virus called H1N1 emerged in the United States and swiftly worked its way around the world, creating the first pandemic in decades. We learned that Mother Nature can be an efficient bioterrorist. From that global response as well as other nations’ responses to emerging infectious diseases and man-made terrorism – from bombings to chemical weapons – we’ve seen the advantages in collaborating with partner countries. Working together to strengthen global health security helps us become better prepared at home to respond to natural and man-made threats.

O  Read more…

Building A Little More Community Resilience Every Day

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 3/8/2017 3:00:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

How Local Health Departments are Strengthening National Health Security

Every day, in communities across the country, local health departments are working to strengthen national health security.  Many of the day-to-day activities of public health make communities healthier and more resilient in the face of a disaster.  When local health departments support vaccination clinics, take steps to teach the community about emergency preparedness, and bring together volunteers, they are supporting national health security.

Many peop  Read more…

Connecting Your Faith-Based Organization with the Community: 5 Projects That Help Build Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 3/3/2017 12:07:00 PM
Category: National Health Security;

Every day, people across the country connect with others in their neighborhoods through faith-based organizations. Whether through services at a local congregation or leading volunteer efforts, faith-based organizations support their local communities provide opportunities for its members to build social ties.

Your faith-based organization probably already sponsors a number of programs that focus on the health of people in your community, but did you know that making sure the people in your neighborhood can stay healthy before, during, or after a disaster is critical to achi  Read more…

Success Starts with STEM: Diversity in Education & Leadership Development

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 2/24/2017 10:42:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Observances;

Students who focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) aren’t just starting a great career path – they are also strengthening the future of national health security. Studying STEM subjects provides a foundation for community health resilience and disaster preparedness skills. But according to the U.S. Department of Education, African-American students are underrepresented in STEM programs, with African-American students obtaining just 7.6 percent of   Read more…

Preparing for the Worst Means Training Like the Best

Author: Ron Miller, Acting Director, National Disaster Medical System, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 2/23/2017 10:40:00 AM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

NDMS teams train regionally to protect health nationwide when disasters strike

When rain fell in Louisiana last year, the local health care system was flooded with patients.  The state requested the help of medical professionals from National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) – a network of over 5,000 health and medical professionals managed by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). NDMS teams were on the ground in a matter of  Read more…

Cooperating, Communication, Coordination and Collaboration: Non-Profit and Faith-Based Organizations Work Together to Improve Disaster Health

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 2/16/2017 12:39:00 PM
Category: National Health Security;

National Health Security Public-Private Partnership Series

During the recovery from Hurricane Katrina, officials in Harrison County, Mississippi, realized that the county emergency operations center and the county’s disaster preparedness approach needed vital improvements. 

They needed to bring community and faith-based organizations to the table and incorporate them into the county’s plans, response operations; the organizations needed representation in emergency operations center so they could coordinate better.

Before the hurric  Read more…

Care and Prepare: Little Things Count

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals, Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience (ABC)
Published Date: 2/11/2017 7:39:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

Disasters and public health emergencies come in many varieties.  They can occur anywhere and anytime.  Yet, disaster preparedness can be one of those things that we just don’t like to think about.  We don’t like to think about making a plan or building kit because we don’t want to think about bad things affecting our families or communities. 

Using the power of positive thinking, we can focus on simple activities we do every day to make our families and our communities safe.  Sometimes the “small things” we do to show that we care can also he  Read more…

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