Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip over global navigation links
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

ASPR Playbooks


The purpose of the ASPR Playbooks is to provide strategic guidance for the Federal Emergency Support Function (ESF)-8 response.  The playbooks outline key options and recommended actions to support the HHS Secretary (or designee) in directing and coordinating the HHS ESF-8 response to disasters and public health emergencies.  The playbook are not intended to be an instruction on “how to” implement ESF #8 missions at the operational or tactical level.  They are written at a strategic level to highlight key decision points, actions, capabilities and assets that may be required to support an incident response.  The playbooks contain a concept of operations that outlines the phases of the response and identifies specific action steps for each phase.  All Federal ESF-8 partners are included in identifying how the synchronized Federal capabilities might be used to support a State response. 

The playbooks’ primary focus is to enhance the preparedness for response and the transition to recovery (including alert, activation, deployment, and deactivation/demobilization of Federal EST-8 resources).

The playbooks are living documents. Simultaneous planning processes and evolving policy decisions may result in some sections not reflecting the most current HHS or interagency plans or policies; thus, the document will require regular, ongoing updates. 

In addition to periodic updates, the response concepts articulated in the playbooks will need to be integrated with other Federal, regional, State, local, Tribal and Territorial planning efforts to improve the ability of Federal ESF #8 response assets to act as a force multiplier during an event. State and local planners might use the playbooks to gain an idea of what Federal ESF-8 capabilities may be available, as well as the framework used by HHS and its ESF-8 partners for assistance deployment.

The playbooks are prepared in accordance with the emergency response authorities and plans of the Federal government.  


The core structure of each playbook is the same.  Each playbook contains the following five (5) major sections:

  • Scenario
  • Concept of Operations
  • Action Steps/Issues
  • Pre-Scripted Mission Assignment Sub-Tasks
  • Essential Elements of Information

Each playbook addresses the core emergency response functions (management command and control, logistics, planning, and operations) and describes Federal ESF-8 operational activities and capabilities to provide for life-saving emergency medical care and support, restoration of the public health and medical infrastructure, patient evacuation and return, veterinary medical assistance, fatality management assistance, and human service and at-risk population needs.

HHS is currently developing hazard-specific playbooks in accordance with the fifteen (15) National Planning Scenarios.  Playbooks are in various stages of development for the following threats: pandemic influenza, aerosol anthrax, plague, smallpox,  radiological dispersal devices (RDD), improvised explosive devices (IED), 10 KT improvised nuclear devices, chemical attacks, chlorine tank explosions, blister agents, botulinum food-borne contaminations, and major earthquakes and hurricanes.  Each playbook will be posted when completed.

ASPR Playbooks

  • This page last reviewed: April 09, 2015