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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Category: Response & Recovery

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…

HHS’ efforts better prepared Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands for Dorian

Author: Mike Cote, Federal Health Coordinating Official and Regional Administrator
Published Date: 8/30/2019 8:01:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Public Health Preparedness; Hospital Preparedness;

Hurricane Dorian didn’t deliver the damage, destruction, and mass patient caseload to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that many people anticipated the storm would — and that’s a good thing. Nevertheless, Puerto Rico was ready for a hurricane in a way it has never been before thanks to the efforts by HHS’ Division of Recovery team.

Over the past two years, federal and territory government agencies and non-government organizations have worked together to prepare Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands healthcare systems for hurricanes and other natural disasters. These  Read more…

The Evolution of the Strategic National Stockpile

Author: Greg Burel, Director, Strategic National Stockpile, and Denise Williams, Technical Writer-Editor, Strategic National Stockpile
Published Date: 8/21/2019 10:02:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery; Medical Countermeasures; Public Health Preparedness;

Twenty Years of Stockpiling Critical Medical Products and Training Professionals to Respond to 21st Century Health Threats


Twenty years ago, Congress established the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), originally named the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, with a $51 million appropriation and a handful of staff quietly housed in CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health. Today, the SNS is part of the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and holds a $7 billion inventory as well as vast experience in preparing for and responding to a variety   Read more…

Expanding Your Partnerships to Enhance Medical Surge: Seven Ways to Engage Outpatient Care Settings

Author: ASPR TRACIE
Published Date: 8/13/2019 11:09:00 AM
Category: Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery; Hospital Preparedness;

Outpatient care settings  - including federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), rural health clinics (RHCs), urgent care centers, home health and hospice agencies, and primary care provider practices - have a wide range of capabilities that could be used to save lives in an emergency, but are they integrated into our nation’s emergency healthcare response system? How can healthcare coalitions better engage outpatient healthcare providers to enhance disaster response?

These are just some of the questions the experts from ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Cen  Read more…

Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act 2019: What Does It Mean for Me and My Organization?

Author: By Dr. Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
Published Date: 6/25/2019 10:54:00 AM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery; National Health Security;

At ASPR, we’re excited about the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019 (PAHPAIA), which the president signed last night. The new law strengthens public health and healthcare readiness, bolsters response and recovery programs, and increases transparency. What do the changes mean for our non-federal partners? We see some key provisions that can significantly improve preparedness and response for our partners.

Improving preparedness

PAHPAIA authorized a funding increase for the Hospital Pr  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…

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…

Combating and Containing the Ebola Outbreak

Author: Robert Kadlec, MD, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Published Date: 3/14/2019 4:13:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery; Innovations;

ASPR’s Strategic Approach to Ebola Medical Countermeasure Development and Utilization in the 2018 Ebola Outbreak

Blog Series:  Battling the Ebola Epidemic

Ebola reemerged as a health threat in 2018, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where two outbreaks of Ebola virus disease have occurred since May 2018. The first of these two outbreaks, in western DRC, was quickly contained. However, the second outbreak, in eastern DRC, has yet to be contained due in large part to the volatile security situa  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…

Complex, Challenging, and Rewarding: Developing Strategies to Support Health and Human Services Recovery in Puerto Rico

Author: By Melanie Deal, Health Communications Specialist, HHS Health Resources and Services Administration
Published Date: 2/7/2019 8:22:00 AM
Category: Response & Recovery;

Almost a year and a half after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, people across the island are still haunted by the memories of the devastating storm, and communities are still recovering. During a recent deployment to Puerto Rico to support disaster health recovery, I learned that recovery is truly a marathon that can take years. I am dedicated to helping people cope, heal and recover, and I have been honored to work with a great team for the Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function, managed by ASPR.

I  Read more…

Holiday Reflections on Disaster Recovery in Puerto Rico

Author: Josh Barnes, HHS/ASPR Recovery Director
Published Date: 12/21/2018 4:51:00 PM
Category: Observances; Response & Recovery;

Sometimes minor inconveniences can bring out an unexpected time for reflection. During a recent trip to Puerto Rico to visit with the HHS recovery team, my flight from Washington, D.C. into San Juan was diverted to Ponce, a couple hours away. After finally landing around 4 a.m. I made the drive in the dark, crossing the Sierras of Cayey and Jájome in those early morning hours to San Juan. Looking back, I’m grateful for that quiet time in the dark of the morning to see first-hand how much difference a year can make.

As I drove across the island, it was refreshing to s  Read more…

A Different Kind of Christmas

Author: By Himilce Velez, Healthcare Services Branch Director Health and Social Services Recovery Support Function DR-4339-Puerto Rico
Published Date: 12/21/2018 4:46:00 PM
Category: Observances; Response & Recovery;

Reflections on Health and Social Services Recovery in Puerto Rico

Hope. That´s the word that best describes Christmas for the people in Puerto Rico. We have one of the longest celebrations around the world full of folklore and customs. The season goes from November to mid-January.

Puerto Ricans believe that Christmas means happiness and celebration. We share experiences with our loved ones, getting together, singing different songs (we love to sing) and eating a variety of our delicious Christmas meals (i.e., pernil asado, rice and pigeons peas, potato salad  Read more…

Three Perspectives on Volunteering, Growth and Service with the Medical Reserve Corps

Author: Esmeralda Pereira, Director of the Medical Reserve Corps Program
Published Date: 12/3/2018 12:28:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; Response & Recovery;

As the holidays approach, many people are thinking about ways that they can give back to their communities and help others. Volunteering with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) is a great way to help your community become healthier – during disasters and every day. Across the country, MRC units offer both medical and non-medical volunteers opportunities to serve people in their communities and a chance to network with other volunteers, learn new skills through training, and gain experience in emergency management and response.

Approximately 190,000 people volunteer with  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…

ASPR’s Vision for Building Readiness: Sustaining Robust and Reliable Public Health Security Capabilities

Author: Robert P. Kadlec, MD, MTM&H, MS, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
Published Date: 8/10/2018 12:54:00 PM
Category: Public Health Preparedness; National Health Security; Medical Countermeasures; Response & Recovery;

HHS’ Vision for Healthcare Preparedness is a multi-part blog series that describes ASPR’s four pillars to achieving national health security: providing strong leadership, building a Regional Disaster Health Response System, sustaining public health security capabilities, and advancing an innovative medical countermeasures enterprise. This blog focuses on sustaining public health security capabilities. Read the next post in the series here.

A catastrophic health emergency – whether n  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…

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