In our recent history, national catastrophic events such as the 9/11 attacks, anthrax letters, Hurricane Katrina, and the threat of pandemic influenza led to an entirely new era in public health emergency preparedness. Policy makers from across the nation saw the need to further integrate public health into the emergency management, first responder, and health care sectors. Because of congressional action, many state public health departments (including Arizona) began to strengthen their old “civic defense” programs. Since 2001, these programs have evolved into the modern public health emergency preparedness programs we have today.
September is National Preparedness Month. It is a time to encourage everyone in Arizona to take steps to prepare for emergencies in their home, businesses, schools, and communities. The ADHS Division of Public Health Preparedness plays a critical role in helping Arizona take those steps by promoting readiness and maintaining the ability to respond to and recover from all types of disasters. Some of the programs that have evolved over the years include:
- The Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP) – Hospitals and other health care facilities coordinate with local emergency management, public health, and first responder communities to ensure systems, resources, and plans are in place to jointly respond in times of need.
- The Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Program – Planned distribution systems and supply chain resources enable local jurisdictions to rapidly dispense lifesaving medical countermeasures in the event of a serious emergency.
- Medical Reserve Corps and Arizona’s Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) – This system allows for the advanced rostering and deployment of volunteer medical personnel to impacted areas in times of critical need.
- Health Emergency Operations Center (HEOC) – The space, staff, and supplies dedicated to the HEOC help ensure health and medical coordination to support disaster response, infectious disease outbreaks, and other declared emergencies, such as the state’s current opioid response.
- The Laboratory Response Network (LRN) – Arizona’s LRN program employs state of the art technology to identify biological and chemical threats and leverage the resources of an advanced network of local and national laboratories throughout the U.S.
National Preparedness Month holds great significance for ADHS and other response agencies as we remember those lost, honor those responders, and join with those working today to make a positive difference in helping our communities become more resilient. Go online to find simple steps you and your family can take to be better prepared.