Greener Guidance: Environmental Health Emergency Preparedness

Feb 25, 2019 | Michelle Shapiro

Note: This is the seventh edition of NACCHO’s Greener Guidance environmental health advice column. See past columns here. Submit a question here.

February 2019

Dear Greener Guidance,

I am writing to inquire about environmental health (EH) emergency preparedness best practices, specifically with the integration of EH with public health, emergency medical services, and behavioral health in response to disasters that require transportation, shelter, and mass care of impacted populations. Are there plans and models of these divisions planning, training and responding as a coordinated task force or team?

– K from California

Dear K,

NACCHO’s Public Health Preparedness Team recommends reviewing these examples of environmental health preparedness and response plans housed in NACCHO’s Toolbox:

(A free MyNACCHO account is required to download these documents. Create an account here.)

We also spoke with a public health emergency preparedness coordinator at Broome County Health Department, Michael E. Bender, for more information on how Broome County integrates environmental health into emergency preparedness.

Here is Mr. Bender’s advice:

As a Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Coordinator it is my responsibility to prepare for emergency responses for all health department divisions. My environmental health (EH) division plays a significant role in many of our health department responses. I have a Public Health Emergency Preparedness Response plan which includes a framework of how we will respond to different types of emergencies. EH is involved with plan updates to ensure they know their role and that it accurately portrays their response during an emergency. We frequently exercise components of this plan and include environmental health staff during these exercises. During all responses and exercises we utilize the Incident Command System (ICS) as the structure to organize our response.

Another invaluable resource for the EH response is the relationships that are established during coalition meetings. These include the Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC) and the Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Coalitions (HEPC). These meetings allow information to be shared between organizations and will frequently result in agencies participating in each other’s exercises and trainings. This collaboration improves the cooperation and response capabilities of all of the organizations involved.

In 2011, we experienced a catastrophic flood which displaced many residents in our county. In my county the agency that is primarily responsible for sheltering operations is the American Red Cross. The demographics of this specific event affected many individuals with access and functional needs. Those needs exceeded the capability of the American Red Cross shelter staff They then reached out to the health department to assist with those individuals. The health department collaborated with our local university, local hospitals, nurse staffing companies, Emergency Medical Services, Medical Reserve Corps and many others to respond and support sheltering operations during this event. By utilizing the established relationships and being organized under the ICS structure we were able to meet the needs of our population during this emergency. Environmental Health played many roles during the flood response. They were involved in ensuring the shelter sites were safe and inspected food establishments that were affected. They also addressed issues with drinking water, septic, and health hazards in the home. In my county if there is a public health issue that someone doesn’t know who should be assigned, it ends up with Environmental Health. This was even more true during the floods.

By having plans and exercising them regularly, establishing relationships, and utilizing an organized response structure with ICS your agency will be poised to respond for the next emergency.

Explore NACCHO’s Toolbox for other useful tools and resources, such as this operational tool focused on the local role in the recovery process. NACCHO’s Administrative Preparedness Toolkit (found in the Toolkits dropdown) may also be of interest.

Lastly, if you or any of your colleagues are attending NACCHO’s upcoming Preparedness Summit on March 26-29 in St. Louis, that will be a prime opportunity to network with and learn from other health departments working on these same issues. Learn more about the Preparedness Summit here, and see the full agenda here.


636530147572900000

About Michelle Shapiro

Michelle Shapiro is a communication specialist for the Environmental Health & Disability team at NACCHO.

More posts by Michelle Shapiro

0 Comments

Related Posts

  • National Environmental Public Health Tracking

Linking Exposures and Health Effects to Environmental...

This year, NACCHO piloted a technical assistance program focused on...

Jul 10, 2020 | Tiara Smith

Linking Exposures and Health Effects to Environmental...

2019 Profile Workforce and Finance Capacity final May 2020 Page 1
  • Press Release

NACCHO New Analysis: Changes in Local Health Department...

— Updated data highlight pre-COVID challenges and potential impact of...

Jul 10, 2020 | Andrea Grenadier

NACCHO New Analysis: Changes in Local Health Department...

Cdc badge small
  • Tools & Resources

CDC Report: Temporary Reassignment of Personnel Requests...

CDC recently updated its flexibilities guidance for recipients and applicants...

Jul 09, 2020 | Kim Rodgers

CDC Report: Temporary Reassignment of Personnel Requests...

Jennifer kertanis headshot 24152456360
  • Opportunity

Top Moments From Day Two at NACCHO 360

Welcome to the final day of NACCHO 360! Yesterday NACCHO Chief Executive...

Jul 09, 2020 | Taylarr Lopez

Top Moments From Day Two at NACCHO 360

COVID VC Screenshot
  • COVID-19
  • Tools & Resources
  • Emergency Response
  • Infectious Disease

NACCHO’s COVID-19 Virtual Community Now Available to All...

NACCHO has opened our COVID-19 Virtual Community to all local health department...

Jul 08, 2020 | Kim Rodgers

NACCHO’s COVID-19 Virtual Community Now Available to All...

Sync2020 logos horizontal 1024x304
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis

Scholarships Available: SYNChronicity 2020 Conference –...

SYNC 2020, the National Conference for HIV, HCV, STI and LGBTQ Health, is...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

Scholarships Available: SYNChronicity 2020 Conference –...

  • COVID-19
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis
  • Research & Reports

Kaiser Family Foundation: Reduction in Sexual and...

The Kaiser Family Foundation released a new issue brief, Potential Impacts of...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

Kaiser Family Foundation: Reduction in Sexual and...

2000px US CDC logo
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis

New Recommendations for Hepatitis Vaccination

CDC has released new recommendations for hepatitis A virus (HAV) vaccination,...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

New Recommendations for Hepatitis Vaccination

TAG Logo
  • HIV, STI, & Viral Hepatitis
  • Research & Reports

Treatment Action Group 2020 Pipeline Report Now Available

Treatment Action Group (TAG) recently published their 2020 Pipeline Report, an...

Jul 08, 2020 | Julia Zigman

Treatment Action Group 2020 Pipeline Report Now Available

Back to Top