Detection and Decision Making

Providing timely situational awareness and information is key for decisions and makers.  As a result, better resource utilization, successful prevention and mitigation of emerging threats, and improved security will occur. Health situational awareness contributes to the overall situational awareness by providing information to jurisdictions at the state, local, and tribal levels, which informs their decision-making as they prepare for, respond to, and recover from a public health emergency or event. More specifically, health situational awareness can be used to collect data and information regarding health threats, population health, health system and human services resources, health-related response assets, as well as other considerations.

NACCHO’s preparedness initiatives are designed to help local health departments (LHDs) build and sustain innovative systems and tools for health situational awareness, improve operational capabilities to meet the full range of health situational awareness needs across stakeholders, and address technological and policy barriers to health situational awareness. NACCHO maintains health situational awareness and helps support LHDs decision-making before an incident, during a response, and through the recovery operations by working on the following preparedness projects and topic areas:

The impact of a severe influenza pandemic could overwhelm hospital emergency departments, clinics, and medical offices if large numbers of ill people seek care. Ensuring patients have the tools and resources to get better at home is an effective way to reduce surge at hospitals and other medical facilities. To address this challenge, NACCHO and CDC partnered to establish and investigate the possibilities of using a text-based reminder system for individuals to follow up on prescribed antivirals and vaccinations.

Text messaging, unlike other digital technologies, has the potential to reach the most populations in the United States because it remains a constant in people’s daily lives. Given that that majority of Americans own cell phones, and an increasing number of those people text, substantial opportunity exists to send messages to reach the public and provide health emergency information, especially during a pandemic or catastrophic event.

NACCHO’s Biosurveillance project maintains and enhance the integration of local public health officials into federal biosurveillance planning and execution activities, which is vital to ensure an appropriate and rapid response to any biological threat. NACCHO shares a common mission with DHS to support local biosurveillance efforts by sharing critical information regarding systems, practices, and resources that will enhance LHDs’ ability to detect biological threats, rapidly mobilize and mortality, and alert the public in the event of act of bioterrorism or emerging infectious disease epidemic.  NACCHO continues to support this project by facilitating conference calls with the Biosurveillance workgroups, disseminating promising practices, and representing the interest of LHDs to federal agencies and partners by participating in biosurveillance meetings.

NACCHO’s preparedness portfolio was designed to communicate and disseminate situational awareness to LHDs by helping them build sustainable capacity for emergency response, foster private and public partnerships, and develop activities, tools, and resources which will help them prepare for, respond to, and recover from a public health emergency or event. These mechanisms include:

Communications

Communicating with our stakeholders including local public health, national policy makers, and the public through a variety of methods. The Preparedness Brief Blog shares the latest news, articles, and upcoming opportunities in local public health preparedness. To learn more about all of NACCHO’s workgroups, visit the Advisory Group Page.

Policy

Serving as a conduit through which local input can reach and affect change on national initiatives. This includes maintaining preparedness workgroups and developing policy statements to inform national policy and guidance.

Response Operations

Activating an incident command and work with partner organizations to support local health departments and federal partners maintain situational awareness and respond to emerging threats.

Technical Assistance

For example, NACCHO developed and offers the Roadmap to Ready training a mentorship program for new local preparedness coordinators.