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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Reinforcing the Front Lines of Disaster Response: ASPR Provides Critical Resources, Stronger Systems, and Lifesaving Training for EMS Professionals

Author: Sean Andrews, MPH, NRP, Policy Analyst, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 5/22/2019 3:04:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Response & Recovery;

Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel respond to emergencies every day and serve on the front lines of the medical response to disasters, terrorist attacks, and mass casualty incidents. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is dedicated to supporting EMS personnel in enhancing and protecting the health and well-being of all Americans.

As the HHS lead for coordinating the public health and medical response to disasters and other emergencies, the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is dedicated to supporting EMS personnel and agencies throughout the response continuum. We support agency readiness by ensuring they have the tools and resources needed to effectively and efficiently respond during disasters and to successfully recover and reconstitute after disasters affect their communities.

ASPR provides such support through a number of programs geared toward EMS responders and systems. As an example, EMS is a critical component of the ASPR-led Hospital Preparedness Program and is a required, core component of regional health care coalitions (HCCs). HCCs work regularly with EMS professionals to integrate them fully into the health and medical response to disasters in their communities.

EMS clinicians and system administrators also are encouraged to register for the Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE), ASPR’s healthcare preparedness information gateway, which provides healthcare practitioners access to preparedness and response information and resources. EMS professionals can use the resources from ASPR TRACIE to learn about issues ranging from responding to no-notice events to protecting themselves and their patients during an infectious disease outbreak. To get started, check out the Select EMS Resources.

To assist EMS response operations during disasters, ASPR developed the HHS emPOWER Program and Map, which provides local public health authorities with data and information on at-risk populations within their communities. EMS agencies regularly use this information to anticipate, plan for and respond to the needs of at-risk individuals in their communities and to help ensure all of their community members have the care they need during disasters.

Additionally, ASPR works with interagency partners to improve EMS training, preparedness, and response. ASPR, with our partners in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Office of EMS, helped launch the Stop the Bleed initiative and the Until Help Arrives campaign in an effort to encourage everyone to learn how to act as "immediate responders" in the first minutes after an injury.

ASPR is working closely with our partners at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) on the Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) Model Program. As the program is rolled out in the coming months and years, ASPR will work with CMMI and participating EMS systems to explore viable alternate treatment and transportation modalities during disasters. This will improve EMS system response to disasters by ensuring EMS systems are able to more effectively allocate resources and deliver to patients the right care at the right time.

ASPR is committed to furthering the goals of the EMS Agenda 2050, a people-centered vision for the future of EMS care in the United States. To achieve this vision, the EMS Agenda 2050 focuses on six guiding principles to help EMS systems promote the best possible patient outcomes by looking for solutions that are: adaptable and innovative, safe and effective, integrated and seamless, sustainable and efficient, reliable and prepared, and socially equitable.

While these principles may seem disparate, they are inherently – critically – interconnected. Each complementary principle is vital to the success of EMS system preparedness for emergencies, both great and small. While most 911 responses don’t make the nightly news or cause community-wide impacts, by being prepared for “small” emergencies, EMS systems and responders are demonstrating their continued dedication to being prepared for all emergencies.

The 2019 theme for EMS Week is Beyond the Call, a concept familiar to all paramedics and EMTs. ASPR thanks all of our nation’s EMS clinicians for their continued, dedicated service to the communities they serve and the health and safety of our nation.


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