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Category: National Health Security

New Smallpox Antiviral Increases National Health Security

Author: Rick Bright, Director, and Julie Schafer, Acting Director of Strategy, both of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 7/13/2018 4:20:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

​​In the 20th century alone, smallpox deaths worldwide numbered in the hundreds of millions. Roughly one-third of people infected with the disease died, while survivors were often left with permanent scars or blindness. After an aggressive global vaccination program in the mid-1970s, the World Health Organization declared smallpox eradicated.

​​But smallpox remains a health security threat in the 21st century. Fears that undeclared stocks of the smallpox virus might exist and that they could be used as weapons of bioterrorism spurred the U.S. government’s Biomedical Advance  Read more…

From 1918 to 2018: BARDA’s Role in the Evolution of Pandemic Preparedness

Author: Rick Bright, Director, and Julie Schafer, Acting Director of Strategy, both of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), a component of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
Published Date: 5/21/2018 4:56:00 PM
Category: Innovations; Public Health Preparedness; Observances; Medical Countermeasures; National Health Security;

BARDA and its industry partners have made tremendous strides to build better, faster, and more flexible vaccine technologies to enable the right vaccine to be where we need it, when we need it. Combating this age-old problem is an epic challenge, and there is still work to be done to speed availability of life-saving vaccines in a pandemic.

In September 1918, a doctor stationed at Camp Devens, a military base located near Boston, Massachusetts, wrote a letter to a colleague:

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EMS: A Critical Partner in Successful Community Disaster Planning and Response

Author: Richard Hunt, MD Senior Medical Advisor, National Health Care Preparedness Programs, ASPR and John Hick, MD, Deputy Chief EMS Medical Director, Hennepin County Medical Center
Published Date: 5/21/2018 11:43:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness; National Health Security;

During EMS Week, we want to draw attention to the vital role EMS plays in disaster healthcare and salute our Emergency Medical Services colleagues nationwide. We know that across the country, our EMS colleagues work on the frontlines of health, providing lifesaving services every day, even on the worst days in your communities. EMS is the first point of contact with medical services for millions of Americans, and with every call EMS professionals put years of training and education to use to make a difference. Your care saves lives.

All too frequently, EMS must respond not j  Read more…

Healthcare Response to a No-notice Incident: Lessons Learned from Las Vegas Festival Shooting

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/24/2018 3:48:00 PM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

On October 1, 2017, during the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival on the Las Vegas Strip, a gunman opened fired from the 32nd floor of a nearby hotel on the crowd of concertgoers. He fired more than 1,100 rounds leaving 59 dead and 527 injured.

Recently, ASPR staff spoke with responding agencies from the Las Vegas shooting to help identify lessons learned that can help other communities, specifically members of the nation’s 476 health care c  Read more…

Hospital Preparedness Program: Celebrating 15 Years of Health Care Preparedness and Response

Author: Melissa Harvey, RN, MSPH, Director of the Division of National Healthcare Preparedness Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 4/16/2018 11:38:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Whether from devastating hurricanes, terrorist attacks, or deadly disease outbreaks, the United States regularly faces crises that threaten the health and safety of Americans. Saving lives during these events requires thorough planning and dedicated coordination to ensure the nation’s health care system is ready when disaster strikes.

Health care readiness is at the heart of ASPR’s Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP). As the only source of federal funding to prepare the nation’s mostly private healt  Read more…

Texas Moves Full-Speed Ahead to Implement Health and Social Service Projects to Improve Resilience and Build Sustainability

Author: C. Kaleinani Lau, MPH, Field Coordinator, Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function (RSF), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Public Health Analyst, Health Resources and Services Administration, Bureau of Primary Health Care
Published Date: 3/19/2018 4:48:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

More than six months after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, Texas is still recovering. But, with so many people and organizations in need of help, where is the best way for the state of Texas and its partners to focus their health and social services recovery efforts?

Six teams of recovery specialists, led by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, worked with representatives from the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of State Health Services to identify projects as a part of the Read more…

Fighting microscopic threats through international collaboration: Health ministers use lessons learned from the 1918 influenza pandemic to strengthen pandemic preparedness and global health security

Author: Division of International Heath Security
Published Date: 3/19/2018 4:37:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Observances; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

One hundred years ago, the 1918 influenza pandemic caused massive devastation, ultimately infecting over 500 million people and killing between 50 and 100 million individuals worldwide. During recent outbreaks of influenza, Ebola, and other emerging infectious diseases, we have learned how critical collaboration among countries and international organizations is for an expedited and more effective response. Working together with our partners to strengthen global health security is crucial to protect Americans from pandemics and other health security threats despite whether they sta  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…

ASPR’s New Vision for a Regional Disaster Health Response System Will Help Prepare Nation for 21st Century Health Security Threats

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 2/15/2018 5:45:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security;

Early this week, I had the opportunity to discuss with colleagues at the University of Maryland Medical Center-Shock Trauma the concept of a regional disaster health response system that is capable of responding more effectively and efficiently to the ever-increasing array of 21st century health security threats.

  Read more…

Filling the Gaps: Planning for the Disaster Health Needs of Patients Taking Opioids and People Using Illicit Drugs

Author: Rachel Kaul, Senior Policy Analyst, ASPR Office for At-Risk individuals, Behavioral Health and Community Resilience, and Frankie Catalfumo, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst with Aveshka, Inc. in support of the ASPR Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 12/1/2017 10:17:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

When a disaster strikes public health and medical responders need to be ready to treat recreational users of opioids who are suffering from withdrawal, opioid patients who are in recovery, and patients who rely on opioids for pain management. Public health and health care professionals need to include the management of issues related to opioid use and addiction as part of their overall disaster preparedness, response and recovery plans.

Amid this year’s historic hurricane season, for example, some of the health care facilities, including opioid treatment centers, in the impa  Read more…

Rapid Assessment Tools for Responders to Address Needs of Individuals Experiencing Homelessness during Disasters

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals, ASPR’s Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 9/19/2017 1:17:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

Natural disasters and emergencies – such as hurricanes, flooding and other extreme weather conditions – create challenges and significantly impact communities. The recent destruction and devastation caused by this year’s hurricanes highlight concerns for the addressing the disaster needs of impacted populations.

Of special concern during these events are at-risk individuals – these include people with access and functional needs that may interfere with their ability to access or receive medical care before, during, or after a disaster or emergency. Under Read more…

BARDA adds new antibiotic to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections in order to protect the American public

Author: Mark Albrecht, Project Officer, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 8/30/2017 1:21:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness; Innovations; National Health Security;

Antibiotics underpin nearly every facet of modern medicine. You can’t have a hip replacement or a caesarean section without effective antibiotics to prevent or treat bacterial infections. The same holds true in a mass public health emergency involving a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) threat. During a biodefense emergency, people may be hospitalized for prolonged periods, potentially exposing them to secondary infections including drug-resistant infections that are occurring at an alarming rate.

That’s why BARDA is focused on development and approval of  Read more…

Get Social: Using Online Networks to Advance Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 8/16/2017 9:41:00 AM
Category: National Health Security;

You probably know that Americans of all ages use social media, but did you know that social media has emerged as a critical resource for the public in disasters, providing timely situational awareness, preparedness guidance, and emergency assistance?

According to the American Red Cross, one in five people will try an online channel for help if unable to reach EMS in an emergency. Many emergency services, health organizations, and even news and government agencies also depend on social media for vital information in crisis and disaster events.

Whether your agency or or  Read more…

Influenza, Measles, and Tetanus: Preventing the Spread of Life-Threatening Diseases during Disasters and Every Day

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 8/9/2017 9:52:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Over the years vaccines have prevented countless cases of disease and saved millions of lives. Routine vaccination protects people from 18 dangerous or deadly diseases. There are many reasons to stay up-to-date on your vaccinations and to make sure that your family members get vaccinated, but here’s one that you might not have thought of: vaccination can help keep you healthy when disaster strikes.

Immunizations are especially important in the wake of disasters for residents who have to evacuate their homes. In any public place, you’ll be exposed to illnesses of other   Read more…

In High Demand: How Health Centers Can Build Surge Capacity, Support People with Access and Functional Needs, and Advance National Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 8/2/2017 10:34:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Hospital Preparedness; Public Health Preparedness;

Our nation’s network of nearly 1,400 community health centers play a vital role in providing health care services to almost 25 million patients, including 8.4 million patients in rural health centers. When a disaster strikes, they have a key role in supporting national health security by continuing to provide services to the people they care for every day.

According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, community health cente  Read more…

The Health Watch: Keeping Your Neighborhood Secure

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 7/26/2017 10:07:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

When it comes to volunteering to keep your community healthy and safe, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start. Creating a neighborhood health watch is one way you can start helping those in need, protecting our nation’s health security in the process. Making your community more organized and connected will help you become more resilient in the face of a wide variety of disasters – from fires and floods to disease outbreaks and even man made events.

You’ve probably heard of a regular neighborhood watch before, where people living in an area get together sometim  Read more…

How to Include Health Security in Your Community’s Summer Events

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 7/19/2017 12:16:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

For communities across the country, summer is the season when many are looking to get out of the house and enjoy time with friends and neighbors. Whenever people get together, volunteer organizations have a chance to teach their communities how to become healthier and more resilient. Whether your community is getting together at a block party, a community fair, a picnic, outdoor movie, or another fun event, you can use it as an opportunity to improve your community’s health security.

Start by checking your local calendar of events to see what local summer events are already  Read more…

Four Great Ways for Local Public Health to Increase National Health Security

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 7/12/2017 5:08:00 PM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness;

Your public health agency or organization probably sponsors many 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 achieving national health security?

Disasters could strike at any time, and when they do, they could threaten the health of an entire community. By providing services that help residents become healthy, strong, and prepared, public health practitioners and organizations can help build community resilience. Com  Read more…

Prepare to Play It Cool: Helping At-Risk Populations Combat Extreme Heat

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 6/29/2017 11:27:00 AM
Category: National Health Security; Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

Summer is officially in full swing, and temperatures are sizzling in several parts of the country. While hurricanes, floods, and storms may be the types of severe weather most emergency planners and responders consider, extreme heat can be just as damaging, if not more. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, extreme heat kills more than 600 people every year in the United States, making it a top cause of weather-related deaths.

Whether as a rising average temperature or as heat waves, extreme heat is a health threat that can be more far reaching than an  Read more…

Working or Volunteering on July 4th? Beat the Heat!

Author: ASPR/OPP Division of Policy and Strategic Planning
Published Date: 6/27/2017 6:33:00 PM
Category: National Health Security;

Over the next few days, EMS providers, fire fighters, Medical Reserve Corps, and many other community members will be supporting Independence Day celebrations. In planning for emergencies during mass gatherings, these workers and volunteers need to remember the “airplane mask rule” and ensure their own health and safety before helping others.

Typically people who work outdoors aren’t considered a medically vulnerable population, yet they are at high risk for heat-related illnesses like heat stroke, exhaustion, cramps or rashes. In fact, most occupational heat-relat  Read more…

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