Public Health Emergency - Leading a Nation Prepared
When major storms hit an area, they can knock out power for days at a time. For over 2.5 million Medicare beneficiaries who rely upon electricity-dependent medical equipment, such as ventilators, cardiac devices and even wheelchairs, these power outages can be life-threatening.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, our nation’s health sector awakened to the need to better prepare for the health needs of these vulnerable patients. After Hurricane Sandy, hospitals in areas affected by the hurricane were flooded with people – not only those needing acute care following the disaster, but also those who sought to access electricity at local hospitals to plug in life-maintaining electricity-dependent medical equipment. This surge can tie up local medical resources, limiting the local healthcare system’s ability to provide care and recover from an emergency.
After identifying this need, ASPR collaborated with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on a solution: the HHS emPOWER Initiative. Central to emPOWER is an interactive public map which ASPR launched in 2015.
Nearly 40,000 individuals across the nation have been using the publicly available HHS emPOWER Map to inform their preparedness, response and recovery decision-making and activities to better ensure the best health outcomes for their communities following an emergency-regardless of size.
Hurricane Matthew offered another opportunity to show how this data could help thousands of communities across four states. Using the emPOWER Map, federal, state and local public health and emergency management officials rapidly identified the populations in the storm’s path and adjusted plans and response operations to address shelter and evacuation assistance needs. They determined gaps and identified areas where urban search and rescue and or health and wellness outreach may be needed.
The power of the HHS emPOWER Map is that it enhances every community’s awareness of those who may be at-risk and offers everyone the opportunity to plan for those needs before an emergency or disaster strikes. Every community member can lend a hand and support public health, health care, emergency management so your community is ready when the next emergency happens.
Check out the HHS emPOWER Map to learn how it could help protect health in your community.
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