Improving everyday resilience is all about taking actions that make people – and ultimately the nation –prepared and stronger. Resilient people help to create resilient communities that are better protected in the face of smaller, everyday incidents, and better able to withstand, manage, and recover from disasters. This in turn, strengthens national health security.
Chances are you already participate in activities that build everyday individual and community health resilience. Strengthening everyday resilience can be as simple as making new relationships in your community, but it also includes activities like CPR or first aid certification.
You can also take steps to become more resilient by promoting your own well-being and mental health. People who are resilient have:
- Social support and close relationships with family and friends
- The ability to manage strong feelings and impulses
- Good problem-solving skills
- The courage to ask for help and seek resources
- A view of themselves as a resilient person
- Healthy ways to cope with stress
- The capacity to help others and find positive meaning in life
To do your part individually to build everyday resilience for your community, try to:
- Live a healthy lifestyle and learn skills to improve stress management. By finding ways to better deal with life’s daily challenges, you can tap into your strengths and the support of family, friends, neighbors, and communities. These effective coping strategies help people develop the ability to withstand and recover from stress and adversity, especially in disaster events.
- Maintain connections to meaningful groups like families, places of worship, and volunteer organizations. People are more empowered to help one another after a major disaster in communities where residents are regularly involved with each other's lives.
- Try to avoid getting sick by taking simple precautions like getting vaccinated and washing your hands. If you do get sick, be careful not to make others in your community sick. Remember that some people – like older adults, immunocompromised individuals, and small children – have a hard time recovering from illnesses. Stay home from work, school or community activities if you are sick.
- Volunteer in your community in any way to help the health of those in need.
- Take trainings in courses like CRP, AED (automated external defibrillator), first aid, and bystander preparedness.
- Talk to your neighbors, family, and friends about emergency preparedness before a disaster strikes. Plan on ways that you can help one another.
Everyday resilience is the cornerstone of a healthy nation. Combined with disaster preparedness efforts, activities that build stronger communities each and every day support the nation’s health security.
Ready to take the next steps in making yourself and your community more resilient? Start by learning more about individual resilience or community resilience.
For more information on national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS.
This year, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) will celebrate 15 years of serving local community needs, and it’s exciting to be able to reflect on the program’s growth. The MRC was created to engage volunteers to strengthen public health and community resilience following the 2002 presidential State of the Union Address that called on Americans to volunteer in support of their country.
What started with just 42 community-based units that first year, the MRC is now almost 1,000 units strong with more than 200,000 volunteers — from youth to retirees — with medical, public health, emergency management, and other backgrounds. Check out the graphic below to see how MRC has grown and changed over the last 15 years.
On behalf of the MRC Program and Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, we would like to thank MRC volunteers for donating their skills and time year after year to support the health and safety of their communities.
In the spirit of service – and to help us kick off our 15th anniversary year – I encourage you to get involved in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Day of Service on January 16, 2017. MLK Day of Service celebrates the legacy of Dr. King by encouraging individuals to take action to meet the many needs of our communities.
MRC volunteers have supported MLK Day of Service over the years with activities such as supporting homeless shelters, tending community gardens, assisting Habitat for Humanity with the renovation of apartments for low income families, sharing community preparedness information, and supporting food/book drives. MLK Day is a great reminder that any of us can make a difference in our communities by serving just one day or throughout the year with a program like the MRC.
To find a volunteer opportunity near you, check out the MLK Day of Service site or contact your local MRC to ask how you may be able to serve. Helping to meet the needs of your community is a great way to kick off 2017 and honor Dr. King’s legacy!
The U.S. government has marked another significant milestone in its effort to better protect Americans against the Zika virus: the first ASPR-supported Zika vaccine has begun a Phase I clinical trial, which will evaluate the general safety of the vaccine in people and provide information on the ways that different doses of the vaccine impact immune response.
The investigational vaccine developed by Moderna Therapeutics of Cambridge, Massachusetts, utilizes a novel messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology. Moderna’s vaccine consists of a small piece of mRNA that when injected into a person’s arm muscle will direct the expression of specific proteins from the Zika virus that have been shown to create an immune response in various animal models. The body then mounts an immune response to these proteins, which will then provide protection to the individual from Zika virus infection and subsequent disease or transmission of the virus to others. Moderna’s vaccine does not contain infectious Zika virus and will not cause an individual to contract Zika disease.
ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, provided Moderna $52.4 million in 2016 to support the development of this vaccine candidate, including conducting a Phase 1 clinical trial, as well as advancing toxicology studies, vaccine formulation and manufacturing scale-up for larger Phase 2/3 efficacy trials. Depending upon the success of the vaccine candidate and available funding, BARDA may provide up to $125.5 million to Moderna to support the advanced development of their Zika vaccine candidate.
BARDA’s collaboration with Moderna on a Zika vaccine also advances a major initiative to support new vaccine production platforms that will improve the efficiency and reduce the timeline to develop vaccines for biodefense threats and emerging infectious diseases. Platform technologies, such as the mRNA approach, can provide flexible and rapid response and have many advantages with potential to revolutionize the way vaccines and therapeutics are produced for known and newly emerging threats.
To improve our chances of having a vaccine available that provides protection to people and halts the spread of the Zika virus, BARDA is supporting this and several other Zika vaccine candidates.
The types of Zika vaccine candidates the U.S. government is supporting are:
- mRNA-based: the Moderna vaccine candidate utilizes a novel technology and vaccine production platform that also could be useful for other biodefense threats and infectious diseases;
- DNA-based: the NIH is currently in Phase 1 trials with two DNA-based vaccine candidates. This type of vaccine may have application in other public health emergencies to help protect the public against newly emerging viruses;
- Inactivated whole virus-based: several candidates are currently being evaluated by NIH, DoD and BARDA at this time. This type of vaccine is based on the same technology that was used to license a vaccine for Japanese encephalitis; and,
- Live-attenuated chimeric-based: this technology is being supported by the NIH and uses a platform that currently is in Phase 3 trials for dengue virus.
We don’t yet know which vaccine strategy might prove to be most successful, but the history of drug development teaches us that we need multiple shots on goal if we want to beat Zika.
It is also worth noting that there were no vaccine candidates for Zika around a year ago. By November 2016, there were more than a dozen approaches to Zika vaccines being evaluated in the U.S. alone. Some of these also have made great progress in development toward clinical trials. Our goal is to have a vaccine in 2018 that can provide protection to at-risk populations under an appropriate regulatory mechanism, and vaccines that are approved and available for broad use in 2020.
When a disaster strikes, it can harm the health of anyone in your community. However, some people are less likely to weather the storm because they may have certain medical conditions, are not able to get the help they need, or because they rely on others for help.
Helping these people during an emergency and keeping their health secure means being prepared to meet their needs. Is your community-based organization ready to serve?
Who qualifies as “at-risk”?
People who will likely have more trouble staying safe and healthy during a disaster are known as “at-risk” individuals. At-risk individuals can include people who may have specific challenges that could prevent them from getting medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. This can include physical restrictions or limitations people have that make them dependent on the help or assistance of others in a disaster event, or can include poor access to services they would need in an emergency, like transportation or accommodations.
Who would I consider to be my at-risk audiences?
Many community-based organizations work with or serve at-risk individuals every day. Here are a few examples of people whose health is at risk during a disaster. Focus on one or two groups you know your organization would be able to help secure in an emergency, and start to incorporate them into your disaster preparedness and health security planning.
- Older adults
- Pregnant women
- People with physical disabilities
- Non-English speakers
- Homeless people
- People with chronic medical disorders
- People with a life dependence on medications
- People who depend on at-home medical equipment, such as ventilators
How can I best meet the needs of my at-risk audiences?
With a better idea of what types of people may qualify in your community as “at-risk,” you can now start to think about ways to incorporate them into your community health resilience and health security planning activities.
Here are some of the challenges that your organization could help address so that you can better keep your whole community healthy in a disaster.
People can only use disaster health information if they can understand it. Think about some common barriers to accessing information in your community. This can include people who are deaf or hard of hearing, speak American Sign Language, have limited to no English proficiency, are blind, or have cognitive limitations. Make sure any materials your organization develops can be understood by your community. Create targeted materials to help ensure the whole community can understand your message.
There are certain people who may require personal care assistance in the maintaining of daily activities, such as eating, dressing, and grooming. The needs of this group are unique and should have a place in your planning process. Decide how you will determine who needs help and how you will use volunteers and other resources to help them.
A sense of independence allows for people to function on their own, as long as they have the required health devices or supplies, such as diapers and formula, wheelchairs and walkers, service animals, and so on. If your organization can offer access to items like these, let other community organizations in your area know so they can include this information in their health security planning. If your organization may need items like these in a disaster event to help the people you serve, find out where you may be able to get these items in an emergency and include that information in your health security planning.
Many people rely on electricity powered medical equipment to remain independent. In a power outage, giving these people a place to plug in could save their lives or keep them out of the hospital. How many of these people are in your community? Check out the HHS emPOWER Map to find out! The HHS emPOWER Map provides information on the total number Medicare beneficiaries with electricity-dependent equipment in your state, county, or ZIP code.
Services and Support
Some people require specific behavioral or mental health needs. In the event of a disaster event, think about how people who rely on your community organization and may require support for dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, severe mental illness, and more receive these services. During a disaster, cases of domestic violence often increase. As a community organization, you may be able to offer assistance for services like these to at-risk people in the area, or you may be able to connect your audiences to other local community organizations that can help.
There are many people who will need easy access to transportation during a disaster event or even in maintaining everyday health, regardless of disability, temporary injury, or poverty. How do you plan to get to the at-risk people in your area to assist them, or how can you help them get to your organization? Coordinate to ensure mass transit or accessible vehicles are taken into account in your health security planning.
If you know that a disaster is coming, plan to help get certain at-risk individuals the care that they need before a disaster strikes. For example, early dialysis saves lives during disasters. If there are dialysis-dependent patients in your community who lack access to transportation, help connect them with early dialysis services. Check out resources from the Kidney Community Emergency Response (KCER) Program to help with planning.
Reach out to your local health or emergency management departments to find out more about how you can help at-risk people through your community-based efforts.
There are many planning guides available to help your community organization plan. Check out the At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience (ABC) Resource Library for guides to help you get started.
For more information and resources on national health security, please visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS.
No one knows exactly what 2017 will bring, but we do know emergencies happen across the country every year. They could come in the form of natural disasters, man-made events, disease outbreaks, or every day events like heat waves and power outages.
But no one is helpless. Kick off the New Year on a positive note and inspire the change many communities need to become more resilient!
When it comes to national health security, the most important way you can help is making sure you, your family, and your fellow residents are prepared and resilient in the face of any events that could harm your health. A great way to do this is to become certified or complete trainings in areas that help create better bystanders during and after disasters.
Here are five examples of trainings, certifications, and programs you can find in your area. These trainings provide life-saving skills that you can use to help improve your community’s health resilience, and in turn, our nation’s health security.
The basics are a great place to start! Yet this basic training has lifesaving potential. First aid training is widely available and can be completed in just a few hours. This training can teach you to provide the care someone needs while waiting for medical professionals or first responders during or after a disaster. The American Red Cross offers a wide range of first aid courses and a selection of mobile apps available for free download, including first aid and pet first aid!
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)
CPR is a lifesaving technique that can be incredibly useful in both disaster events as well as every day. This training can be applied in any event in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. This could happen as a result of a heart attack or a near drowning event. The American Red Cross offers trainings both online and in-person, so everyone can find an option that works for their schedule or learning style. They offer First Aid and AED trainings too!
AED (automated external defibrillator)
Learn how, and when, to use a defibrillator. According to the American Red Cross, the average response time for first responders once 911 is called is 8 to 12 minutes. And the chance of survival for someone in need of defibrillation is reduced 10% for each minute that passes without it. However, after just a few short hours, you can learn how to help save a life in an event where an AED is needed.
What do you get when you take first aid, CPR, and AED training and combine them into one powerful preparedness package? Emergency care training! Many of the same organizations that offer individual trainings will also offer combination courses that can certify you in all three areas. While the individual trainings are incredibly useful in disaster and everyday health security efforts, taking them together can make you a better bystander overall.
Stop the Bleed!
This quick and easy online training from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security focuses on teaching bystanders to stop the bleed by applying a tourniquet correctly. A person who is bleeding can die from blood loss within five minutes, so it’s critical that bystanders do what they can to stop the blood loss among the injured.
Join other communities just like yours across the country and resolve to be ready! Work hand in hand with neighbors to get trained so you can keep one another safe and healthy in disasters and every day.
For more information on national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS.
When disaster strikes, bystanders are on the scene helping the injured before emergency responders arrive. In the first few minutes after a disaster, the actions that bystanders take to help others can make all the difference. Bystanders, even those with little or no medical training, can become heroic lifesavers during disasters.
As we witnessed during events over the past year like the winter superstorm Jonas, the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, or the Houston floods, bystanders’ efforts can save a person’s life or give emergency responders the time they need to reach the injured person and provide care.
Make it your New Year’s resolution to lend a hand when someone around you is hurt and needs your help, and empower others to get involved. It not only saves lives but it also builds community health resilience and national health security.
Health security is all about making sure people are protected and resilient in the face of events that can harm their health and the health of those around them. By being a more educated, informed, and active bystander, you can be an incredibly important part of health security!
In a disaster situation when emergency management and medical personnel are addressing the most critical patients, there are many opportunities for others to assist with other needs, like applying basic first aid, stopping the bleeding or comforting survivors.
Here are three things you can do to help protect health and maybe even save someone’s life when disaster strikes:
Be Willing to Help
Training is an important part of it, but also being willing to take care of someone who may desperately need it in that moment is just as important. You don’t have to be a doctor to help. Carrying someone who is hurt or injured to safety, providing comfort to an injured person, or helping someone find medical care are all things that most of us can do. A bystander who is prepared is one who is aware of potential risks, knows where they can go for help, and most importantly, wants to assist others.
Become a Better Bystander
Many people want to help their friends, families and communities when disasters strike, but they aren’t sure how. Being willing to help in an emergency, taking a first aid and CPR class, and having risk awareness are critical steps to becoming a better bystander. Complete a bystander preparedness training or just take a few minutes to learn to apply a tourniquet. The American Red Cross is a great organization to start with for finding trainings available in your area.
Support Bystander Response
By promoting bystander response to other residents and organizations, you can strengthen community health resilience and national health security. Become an advocate in your local community. Encourage organizations that you are involved in to support training and certification programs like first aid, family care, AED (automated external defibrillator), CPR, and emergency care—all of which create stronger bystanders.
So remember, bystanders don’t just stand by! They can save lives. Start the New Year off right by becoming a better prepared bystander and encouraging others to do the same. Doing so will create a community that is better prepared overall.
To learn more about national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS.
This holiday season and into the New Year, I challenge us to also think of ways that we can give of our professional skills, training, and time to serve our local communities. While there are countless ways to do so — many of which were mentioned on the November ASPR blog — the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) provides a unique volunteer opportunity to strengthen public health and improve the safety of your community.
Established in 2002, the Medical Reserve Corps began with 42 community-based volunteer units and a shared mission to build strong, healthy, and prepared communities. Today, our network comprises nearly 200,000 volunteers in almost 1,000 MRC units nationwide. From being among the first to respond to natural disasters; to organizing blood drives and vaccination clinics; to leading preparedness training exercises and engaging youth in public health, MRC volunteers are not only on the front lines of emergency response, but are continually working to reduce disaster risk and build healthy and resilient communities.
Last year, MRC units collectively participated in more than 18,000 public health, preparedness, and response activities. 2016 has proven to be equally as busy. Volunteers have stepped up across the country to support health emergencies, natural disasters, and large community events. Below are a few highlights from the year, which help to illustrate the diversity of efforts.
In 2016, MRC units:
- Prepared for and responded to the Zika virus nationwide. Volunteers provided education and outreach, performed vector control assessments, and conducted Zika testing in local communities. In Puerto Rico, where the Zika virus was declared a public health emergency, more than 140 MRC volunteers provided near-daily education and outreach, reaching approximately 17,000 individuals.
- Provided Psychological First Aid to community and family members in the wake of the Orlando, FL, shooting incident.
- Responded to flooding in Texas and Louisiana, collecting donations and providing support and sheltering for affected individuals and their pets.
- Supported the Democratic and Republican National Conventions this summer, including staffing first aid stations.
- Assisted with nursing home evacuation planning, and served as clinical and support staff at local shelters during Hurricane Matthew.
- Collaborated with community partners to organize and staffa volunteer-driven clinic that provided free medical, dental, and vision services to members of the Seattle community.Thanks to the hard work of volunteers, the clinic was able to serve 4,492 patients over four days.
- Continued to confront the nation’s opioid crisis. MRC volunteers are working tirelessly in communities hard hit to educate individuals on prescription drug abuse; participate in prescription drug take-back / safe disposal events; and train law enforcement and emergency responders on the use of Narcan (naloxone), a medication used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. And MRC efforts are making a difference — the MRC Narcan project in LaSalle County, IL, has been credited with saving 12 lives from overdoses.
In addition to the impact these activities have on our communities and nation, volunteerism has tangible benefits to us as individuals as well. There is a sense of pride, accomplishment, and connectedness in helping to ensure our neighborsare safe and healthy. When we look out for each other in our local communities, our nation is stronger.
If you are interested in serving your community, I invite you to join us. Find an MRC unit near you, talk to your local coordinator, ask what their needs are and how you can serve. Your neighbors, community, and nation will be healthier and stronger because of you!
The valuable work that most community-based organizations do each and every day within communities helps create stronger, healthier citizens, which in turn, helps our nation’s health security. And building stronger, healthier communities is a cornerstone of national health security.
Working to ensure that the health of a community and its residents stays strong and remains resilient in the face of any disaster events is one of the best ways community organizations can help build stronger national health security. So what does this community health resilience look like?
Here’s the story of just one community organization that was able to include national health security in the great work they were already doing:
“Following a hurricane that left significant damage and destruction in its wake, the town and surrounding region of Mount Pleasant, S.C. received an abundance of clothing and supplies donated from all around the country. Unfortunately, the town had no system in place to distribute these supplies and connect them to those members of the community who were most in need after this disaster event. As a result, community organizations and leaders in the region recognized that they needed to be able to distribute relief supplies more effectively in the event of another disaster.
Community-based organizations in the area decided to partner together and establish the new East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) program. As a part of this program, local volunteer organizations coordinated with each other to develop a system to distribute donations and resources immediately after a disaster to those in greatest need.
With a wide distribution network of contacts and centers dispersed throughout the community, the ECCO is now able to efficiently and effectively get donated resources out to the community and into the hands of those who need them most in the face of any future disasters. Despite the ongoing work of different day-to-day efforts of the volunteer groups in the region, they all worked together to find a way to help build their community’s health resilience and security.”
- Community & Resilience Regional Institute (CARRI).
Its stories like these that showcase how organizations can come together to focus on a common goal: creating healthier, stronger communities.
However, each community’s and each organization’s story will be different. What works for one community organization may not work for another. How your organization chooses to integrate health security into its existing efforts is entirely flexible, as long as these three basic tenets of a health secure community are kept in mind:
- Residents make sure everyone is accounted for in events with health consequences.
- Neighbors know one another and actively build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.
- People in the community work with everyone in it, especially its most at-risk residents like seniors, children, homeless, and the disabled.
Keeping these basic goals in mind in looking at community-based efforts and projects, it’s easy to build connections between the work organizations are already doing and national health security. From health, housing, and nutrition to education, development, and even transportation, the focus of everyday work from practically any community organization can be tied back to national health security!
For more information and resources on national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS.
Coming up with and paying for thoughtful gifts, decorating the home, making delicious food, and coordinating with friends and family – this common holiday to-do list is enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed at times or stressed. In fact, an American Psychological Association poll found that eight out of ten households say they experience stress during the holidays. This stress was increased for caregivers and for households that have children. And if your family is recovering from a disaster or if the holidays coincide with the anniversary of a disaster, you may feel even more stress.
We frequently think about how stress affects us and what we can do to reduce it, but have you ever thought about how holiday stress, and how you react to it, might be impacting the kids in your life? The holidays present an opportunity for you to help children by teaching them how to manage stress and their holiday expectations, as well as learn about concepts such as gratitude and giving back.
The first step to helping children manage stress is recognizing how they show it. Changes in children’s regular behavior may be signs of stress. Nervous behaviors like nail biting or complaints of not feeling good are also signs of stress in children. Indicators of more severe stress and anxiety include regression to younger behaviors (such as temper tantrums), and withdrawal from family and friends.
Stress may be compounded if other factors, such as major life changes or losses for the family, have occurred around the holidays. In addition, the disruption of regular routines or travel to unfamiliar places, while exciting, may also create some anxiety or unease in young children. The ability to recognize these stress signs in the kids in your life gives you the opportunity to help them and teach them great coping habits.
Here are some tips for ways that you can help prevent children from experiencing these stress related symptoms and behaviors:
- Discuss holiday plans in advance: Familiarize children with what they should expect over the holidays. This includes telling them who they will see, what they might eat, what activities there may be, and if they will be expected to follow new rules.
- Try to keep a stable routine: Travelling for the holidays almost always means that there will be a disruption in the child’s daily routine. Try to minimize this disruption as much as possible by sticking to bedtimes/naptimes, providing familiar foods, and bringing some of the child’s favorite things with them during travel.
- Take care of yourself: Take steps to reduce your own stress. Stay active, practice relaxation, eat healthy foods, and get a proper night’s sleep. Your children will learn to respond to holiday stress by watching how you respond. Taking steps to make sure that you are able to respond in a positive way is one way to prevent your children from experiencing holiday stress.
- If a loved one will be missing from this year’s holidays: Celebrating holidays without a loved one can be especially stressful for children. Try not to abandon holiday traditions in the aftermath of a familial loss. Keeping traditions can help children retain a sense of normalcy around the holidays.
By recognizing stress and taking steps to manage it, for yourself and the kids around, you can enjoy all of the best parts of making holiday memories.
The holidays can be a great time to slow down and take some time to connect with your neighbors and the people in your community. How many people in your neighborhood or your community do you really know? And which of them would you go to for help after a disaster? Do you know which of them need the most help from you and your neighbors?
With busy schedules, it can be hard to get to know your neighbors, but there are fun and easy ways you can build ties to help secure your community’s health resilience, and in turn, our nation’s health security.
One such activity most communities may already take part in is the block party. Block parties offer neighbors of all ages, backgrounds, and mobility the chance to get out and meet one another, building strong new relationships. These relationships can be important every day, but they are even more important when disaster strikes. If you start planning now, you can host an event just in time for the holiday and have a great turnout!
Never thrown a block party before? It’s easy! Here’s a few quick steps to get you started:
Step 1: Team Up With Your Neighbors!
The first step towards throwing a successful block party is building a great team of neighbors to help! Reach out to the people in your community who may have experience organizing community events, or neighbors you know would enjoy being a part of such an event. You could even try posting a call-for-volunteers in a neighborhood social media group!
Step 2: Check-In on Progress
Meeting with your fellow volunteers to check-in on progress for your block part is a great way to make sure everything is taken care of and ready to go. Throw a fun kickoff meeting at someone’s house or local coffee shop. Start off with selecting a day for your block party that works for everyone and doesn’t compete with any other community events. Decide if you are going to check in with each other as your party date gets closer.
Step 3: Choose How You Want to Help
How big is your block party going to be? If it’s a simple potluck for your street, just ask people what dishes they might want to bring and who can host the event. If you and your neighbors want to go big and put on an event for the whole neighborhood, it’s going to take a few more steps. It depends on the size of your event, but some key areas to keep in mind are permits and security, entertainment and activities, food and beverage, and set-up and clean-up.
Step 4: Have Fun!
Make sure you enjoy all the hard work that you and your neighbors put into this event!
These steps will set you well on your path to creating a great, fun community event where your neighbors can start building new relationships and stronger community health resilience in the process.
Looking for more information? Check with your local Parks and Recreation or Public Health Department to see if they can offer any help or assistance!
To learn more about what you can do to for national health security, visit www.PHE.gov/NHSS or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.