This month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services highlights a December 2015 Arizona preparedness collaboration between ADHS, the Arizona Pediatric Disaster Coalition and Arizona schools. We conducted an emergency preparedness exercise to improve the relationship between hospitals and schools in order to streamline emergency care for vulnerable pediatric populations.

Using a whole community approach, local schools, law enforcement, emergency management, public health, and healthcare system partners gathered to tackle challenging response issues such as incident coordination, addressing gaps in resources available for afterschool activities, synchronizing communications, and integrating medical and mental health/behavioral health support during an emergency scenario.

Our ADHS Bureau of Public Health Emergency Preparedness helps integrate community partners into the planning process and continually tests capabilities and integrates improvement plans to strengthen community preparedness. This event provided a platform for Arizona and states throughout the country to work with their local Hospital Preparedness Program to prompt discussions, drills, and exercises to ensure families are swiftly and correctly reunited in the wake of an emergency event and public health and safety can work seamlessly to address medical surge events for vulnerable populations.