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Category: Public Health Preparedness

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:

Read more…

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…

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…

Returning to Readiness: Strengthening Psychological Resilience by Building Behavioral Health Coalitions

Author: CDR Aimee Williams, DHSC, LCSW-C, BCD, PhD, United States Public Health Service, Office of Policy and Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Frankie Catalfumo, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst, Aveshka Inc. in service of the Office of Policy and Planning, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 3/29/2018 9:31:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

The 2017 Atlantic hurricane season was one of the most destructive in recent history. During the recovery phase of a disaster, all impacted areas strive to stabilize, rebuild, recover, and be ready for the next emergency. Returning to readiness is a slow pivot and a relentless fight to re-establish broad public health and medical care services. The challenges and issues following a large-scale disaster are often too complex for any one agency or organization to address. Assembling a coalition of community stakeholders can be an effective strategy to determine what health care suppo  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…

Aging and Disability Task Force: An Access and Functional Needs Approach to Addressing the Unmet Disaster Needs Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Author: Cheryl A. Levine, Ph.D., Senior Policy Analyst & Team Lead for At-Risk Individuals; Jose Velasco, MSW, Public Health Analyst for At-Risk Individuals; and Amit Zigelman, MPH, Jr. Management Analyst, Aveshka, Inc. in support of the ASPR Division for At-Risk Individuals, Behavioral Health & Community Resilience
Published Date: 2/21/2018 4:42:00 PM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Innovations;

The recent impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria left Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) in complete devastation. Buildings and homes were destroyed. Hospitals, dialysis centers, and pharmacies that weren’t destroyed were closed due to water and wind damage or a lack of electricity. Transportation services were lacking or, in some areas, non-existent. These issues affected everyone; however, people with access and functional needs – including older adults and people with disabilities – were particularly vulnerable in the hurricanes’ aftermath.

In response, the Off  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…

Inside the Texas Catastrophic Medical Operations Center: An Interview with Lori Upton

Author: by Lori Upton, RN, BSN, MS, CEM, Director of Preparedness, Southeast Texas Regional Advisory Council.
Published Date: 1/31/2018 10:30:00 AM
Category: Hospital Preparedness; Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness;

During Hurricane Harvey, SETRAC’s Catastrophic Medical Operations Center, or CMOC, acted as a clearinghouse – overseeing information management, brokering requests for assistance and supplies, coordinating patient movement, and providing situational awareness across emergency response disciplines. We spoke with Upton to learn more about the CMOC’s structure and day-to-day functions.

Q: How many members are in the Catastrophic Medical Operations Center?
A: A fully staffed CMOC has 13 members. During Harvey we expanded the CMOC to   Read more…

Responding to Harvey: How a Houston-area Healthcare Coalition Modeled Success

Author: Dan Hanfling, Special Advisor, Hospital Preparedness Program, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 1/31/2018 10:28:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

On Aug. 27, 2017, at the height of Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic winds and rain, a 54-year-old man with a serious head injury arrived at the Harris Health System’s Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Hospital Emergency Department in Houston, Texas. As a Level III trauma center, the hospital needed additional personnel and resources to treat the man; he needed to be transported to a Level I trauma center for neurosurgery.

Hospital officials asked for transport assistance, but the weather conditions were so severe that roads were impassable and helicopter transports were grounded. A col  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…

BARDA Supports a Rapid, Deployable, Sensitive Diagnostic Platform to Diagnose Anthrax

Author: HHS/ASPR Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority
Published Date: 11/20/2017 1:55:00 PM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Innovations; Public Health Preparedness;

In the wake of an anthrax attack, medical responders need to quickly determine who has been infected so that they can be effectively treated. A rapid, accurate diagnostic test is an essential tool for doctors and other health professionals to effectively triage people who may be infected with anthrax. Such a tool has been long requested by medical responders as a critical component of anthrax preparedness.

On September 27, 2017, BARDA awarded a $3,199,221 base period of a contract to Tangen BioSciences Inc. of Branford, CT to further advance and expand the ability to combat  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…

Recovering from the Fourth Worst Disaster in U.S. History: Implications for Children’s Health in Recovery

Author: CDR Betty Hastings Louisiana Federal Health and Social Services Recovery Field Coordinator, Office of Emergency Management, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.
Published Date: 8/23/2017 11:50:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

Last year’s flooding in Louisiana ranked as the fourth worst disaster in U.S. history. Fifty-six of Louisiana’s 64 parishes were affected by major floods in 2016, and communities are still recovering with the help of an interagency federal response.

Child care centers and schools closed. The statistics related to children were staggering.

  Read more…

Discovering a Career in Health

Author: Priya Rathakrishnan, President, HOSA Executive Council
Published Date: 8/22/2017 1:10:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness;

For teachers, volunteers, and leaders looking to engage young people, it can be hard to know where to start or how to get those young people involved. Often the best avenue to engage new audiences is to go directly to them in the places they already spend time. In looking to engage young people, professionals should look to other areas in their community where young people volunteer. In her own words, here is one student’s journey, from local library volunteer to HOSA President, that shows how an initial spark of interest in volunteerism and community involvement can build into  Read more…

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