September 2013 marks the tenth annual National Preparedness Month, and organizations across the United States will be promoting the importance of emergency preparedness in their communities. This year’s theme is “You Can Be the Hero,” and emphasizes the role that anyone can play in encouraging preparedness.
Local health departments (LHDs) have an especially critical role in promoting community emergency preparedness. As all disasters are local, understanding your community’s unique risks is important to planning how to respond in case of disaster. Recent incidents such as the Boston Marathon bombing, the West, TX fertilizer plant explosion, and the emergence of the H7N9 influenza and MERS-CoV viruses are pressing examples of the importance of continuing training and exercise activities for emergency response. The best time to practice the LHD response to an emergency is before it happens, and Preparedness Month offers a great opportunity to engage in preparedness planning.
This Preparedness Month, NACCHO will explore the past, present, and future of public health preparedness. As we move forward into the next decade after 9/11, our nation has learned many important lessons but still falls short in creating a truly proactive public. LHDs continue to be hard hit by budget cuts and job losses, jeopardizing their investments in preparedness and public health overall. As we move forward in creating a more resilient nation, creativity regarding funding, partnerships, and technology will be necessary to advance our preparedness efforts. NACCHO will share how LHDs can be ready to face emerging challenges such as the effects of climate change and administrative preparedness.
To engage preparedness professionals in Preparedness Month and beyond, NACCHO has launched the Preparedness Brief as a new online community dedicated to strengthening local public health emergency preparedness. Check back often for feature articles, tools, and the latest news for local public health preparedness professionals.
For more information on how your LHD can mark Preparedness Month, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) website at www.cdc.gov and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s www.ready.gov . For emergency preparedness tools developed by LHDs for LHDs, visit NACCHO’s Advanced Practice Centers’ website at www.apc.naccho.org to view and download resources that you can start using today.