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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: Exercises & Trainings

Continuous Demands, Multiple Disasters, Mounting Stress

Author: Rachel Kaul, LCSW, CTS, Senior Advisor for Behavioral Health, HHS/ASPR Emergency Management and Medical Operations
Published Date: 9/13/2019 3:33:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Response & Recovery;

How Emergency Responders can Protect against Burnout, Compassion Fatigue, and PTSD

As any emergency responder knows, EMS providers, healthcare professionals and other emergency responders work in fast-paced, demanding, challenging environments. Although this work can be incredibly rewarding, the accumulation of daily stressors coupled with the intense pressures associated with a disaster – such as taking on unfamiliar duties, witnessing horrific events, comforting traumatized people, working back-to-back shifts, eating poorly, and sleeping rarely – can have serious repercus  Read more…

Health Care Coalition Response Leadership Course

Author: Richard C. Hunt, MD, FACEP, Senior Medical Advisor, National Healthcare Preparedness Programs HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 7/18/2019 9:06:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

From Penguins to Practical Solutions that Enhance Disaster Response

Teams that perform well have a shared mental model of success. Think about penguins. In the waters of Antarctica, penguins form groups to perform a complex task: get food in a chaotic environment with competing demands. But, all of these penguins are operating with a shared idea of success: fish for dinner (or breakfast, or lunch…). Healthcare coalitions often don’t have that level of clarity and that can be a real problem. When their teams come together, they often don’t agree on  Read more…

Teaching Life-saving Skills in Minutes

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 7/3/2019 5:02:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers Empower Communities using Stop the Bleed Training

Last month, teams of volunteers from Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units across the country taught life-saving skills to the people in their communities as part of Stop the Bleed month. The MRC is a national network of local groups of volunteers engaging local communities to strengthen public health, reduce vulnerability, build resilience, and improve preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. These volunteers dedicated more than 780 hours to training peop  Read more…

Building a Better Network: Four Ways to Make Critical Connections Your Facility Could Rely on During a Medical Supply Shortage

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Michael Eltringham, Stakeholder Engagement Analyst, ASPR Critical Infrastructure Protection Program Contract Support
Published Date: 6/13/2019 8:26:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

When Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, one unexpected challenge faced by the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) Sector was maintaining production of medical gases such as oxygen, nitrogen, and argon on the island of Puerto Rico. The power needs for such an operation exceeded available generators; so, for the duration of electricity outages in the area, novel plans had to be devised for the challenging transport and distribution of products across the island.

Partners from the gas manufacturers, healthcare facilities, and the federal and territorial government closely coordinated   Read more…

A Critical Crash Course in Chemical Decontamination

Author: Efrain E. Garcia, Ph.D.,Health Scientist, Division of CBRN Countermeasures, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response
Published Date: 5/24/2019 9:29:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Exercises & Trainings;

​What EMS Professionals Need to Know about Mass Chemical Decontamination

In communities across the country, people rely on Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals to make quick, life-saving decisions.  Becoming an EMS professional takes years of training that you can directly apply during most disasters and emergencies, such as hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.

However, do you know how to effectively decontaminate yourself or patients following a chemical event? 

Straightforward Guidance to Help Save Lives

Decontaminating people   Read more…

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   Read more…

New Training to Enhance Disaster Health Outcomes for Your Whole Community

Author: Cheryl Levine, PhD, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 4/12/2019 3:27:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Free online training focuses on helping people with access and functional needs


In planning for the whole community’s needs during a disaster, consider that on any given day, approximately half of the U.S. population has a temporary or permanent condition that limits their ability to take action in an emergency. Simply put – they have access and functional needs (AFN).

Addressing access and functional needs is a crucial part of comprehensive disaster planning for the whole community and is mandated for inclusion in federal, state,  Read more…

Preparing for a Potential Domestic Ebola Outbreak

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 3/15/2019 2:11:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Enhancing U.S. Healthcare System Preparedness and Public Health Emergency Response Capabilities

Blog Series:  Battling the Ebola Epidemic

An Ebola outbreak that began more than seven months ago continues to claim lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Although international response efforts are underway to contain the outbreak at its source and prevent the spread of the disease to other countries, we must always be prepared for the possibility of an Ebola case in the United States.

<  Read more…

National Disaster Medical System: Bringing More Than Teams of Professional Medical Providers

Author: Ron Miller, Ph.D., Director, National Disaster Medical System, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 2/13/2019 10:35:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

The National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) has a heroic, yet complex, mission to save lives and protect Americans. When disaster strikes, it’s potentially the worst day in the lives of hundreds – if not thousands – of people. Therefore, our mobilization, implementation, and execution need to be streamlined and seamless.

However, we never rest on our laurels. We are constantly training and identifying gaps within the preparedness and response framework to better mobilize when the inevitable ultimately occurs. NDMS has identified three pillars to expand the service’s c  Read more…

Four Ways to Plan to Protect Patient Health in a Medical Supply Shortage

Author: Laura Kwinn Wolf, Ph.D., Director, ASPR Division of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Michael Eltringham, Stakeholder Engagement Analyst, ASPR Critical Infrastructure Protection Program Contract Support
Published Date: 1/25/2019 11:59:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

Blog Series: Anticipating and Managing the Challenges Associated with Supply Shortages

According to FDA, there are currently 109 drugs in shortage in the U.S. Supply shortages threaten patient health even in the best circumstances, but their number and impact can be exacerbated by a prolonged disaster response. With so many shortages, one is likely to impact your hospital or healthcare facility at some point.  By planning to cope with the impacts of a supply shor  Read more…

Four Ways to Enhance Language Access during Disaster Response and Recovery

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, PhD, Senior Advisor for At-Risk Individuals, Senior Policy Analyst Neelam Salman, JD, Civil Rights Analyst Amit S. Zigelman, MPH, Management Analyst
Published Date: 11/29/2018 5:14:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Creating Disaster Health Communications Your Community Can Understand

You probably know that your community includes people who find it difficult to speak, read or understand English, and it’s easy to underestimate the diversity of language access needs in our communities. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, at least 350 languages are spoken across the country. In addition, about 15 percent of American adults report some trouble hearing, 8.1 million people across the  Read more…

Decontamination Decoded: Disrobing, Dry Wiping Removes 99% of Chemical Contaminants

Author: Judith Wolfe Laney, PhD, Chief of Chemical Medical Countermeasures, Division of Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures within BARDA at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 4/11/2018 9:31:00 AM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

Last month, a truck carrying 4,400 gallons of hydrochloric acid collided with a train in Centerville, PA. For several hours, a column of white vapor floated above the wreckage. Emergency responders acted quickly to evacuate residents in the area and clean up the spill.

On a daily basis, thousands of businesses use our nation’s roads and railways to transport hazardous chemicals used for industrial or household purposes. Whether a chemical is released by accident, such as the case in Centerville, or intentionally by rogue assailants, terrorist organizations, or non-state acto  Read more…

Lessons from Fukushima: New guide provides answers to save lives and improve emergency medical response

Author: John F. Koerner, MPH, CIH, Senior Special Advisor - Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Science and Operations, HHS ASPR Immediate Office
Published Date: 3/12/2018 2:22:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; Exercises & Trainings; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security; Response & Recovery;

Quick questions: A nuclear incident has occurred in your community and people are going to come to you for help. Do you know which medical issues you should focus on first? Or which steps need to be taken immediately after an incident to best protect the public? Or what resources might be available to help?

Before you answer “no” to any of those questions, download a copy of the newly released Decision Maker’s Guide: Medical Planning and Response for a Nuclear Detonation.

An e  Read more…

How to Save a Life in 12 Minutes Using Just Your Bare Hands

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 5/31/2017 11:10:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Exercises & Trainings;

Twelve minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time. It’s about enough time to go through your morning e-mail, take out the trash and feed the dog, or grab a cup of coffee. But if someone’s heartbeat or breathing has stopped, 12 minutes means the difference between life and death. On average, it takes first responders 8-12 minutes to respond to a 911 call, according to the American Red Cross. The chance of survival for someone in need of defibrillation is reduced by 10% for each minute that passes without it.

Most people who survive those twelve minutes were helped by a bysta  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…

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…

‘Tis the Season for Volunteering … with the MRC

Author: Brennan Leddy, Communications Specialist, Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 12/21/2016 3:28:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Exercises & Trainings;

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   Read more…

Want a more resilient community? Start by improving public health in your neighborhood.

Author: Jaya Bhatt, M.S. M.P.H. Junior Management Analyst, Office of Policy and Planning, Division of Policy and Strategic Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 4/6/2016 2:18:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Exercises & Trainings;

Think about all of the things that go into making our nation more secure and enhancing our well-being.  What do you think is at the foundation?  For President Obama, it’s public health.  And, you don’t need to be in the medical community to be active in your community and play a vital role in enhancing public health outcomes following disasters.

Healthy communities – the ones where people get outside, know their neighbors, and work together toward common goals – bounce back more effectively when disaster strikes.  They have strong systems to p  Read more…

Volunteering in tough conditions to protect health today and promote disaster preparedness for tomorrow

Author: Bobbie MacKenzie State MRC Volunteer Coordinator New Mexico Department of Health
Published Date: 3/11/2016 1:27:00 PM
Category: Observances; Exercises & Trainings;

The Annual Bataan Memorial Death March is tough. The 26.2 mile march through hot, rugged terrain lasts for 14 hours. Hundreds or even thousands of the 5,800 marchers are likely to need medical attention during the march – making this a “planned mass casualty” event. The New Mexico Medical Reserve Corps is an important part of the team that gets participants the help they need.

For the past five years the New Mexico Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has worked with other volunteer disaster teams and the military to provide medical care during the Bataan Memorial Death March. As  Read more…

The chaos before the storm

Author: Ron Miller, Director, National Disaster Medical System
Published Date: 1/20/2016 3:57:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings; Public Health Preparedness;

Anniston, Alabama, recently became the scene of controlled chaos: waves of patients needing urgent medical care, a steady rotation of helicopters performing medical evacuations, and medical personnel scrambling to decontaminate people affected by an incident. This time the patients were actors, but this degree of realism is what drives ASPR to send National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) personnel to train at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP) in Anniston. At CDP, the nation’s premier, all-hazards training facility, members of t  Read more…

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