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Public Health Preparedness

Public Health Preparedness

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) recognizes that public health events will largely be managed at the local level, at least for the first 48 to 72 hours after a major event. As a result, ORISE works with community partners, and in conjunction with government agencies and organizations, to help address gaps and obstacles experienced at the local level in order to plan for an effective response.

This is accomplished largely through training exercises and drills, community-based workshops and key stakeholder meetings, crisis and emergency risk communication, and community and public health education.

Training Exercises and Drills

Training exercises and drills provide objective assessments of a community’s or agency’s preparedness capabilities so that areas of strengths and improvement are identified, shared, and corrected prior to a real public health event.

Specifically, training exercises and drills:

  • Provide a forum for local, state and federal responders to get acquainted and begin building coalition partnerships prior to an actual public health event
  • Measure the operational effectiveness of existing plans and procedures
  • Allow for perspective sharing, brainstorming, strategizing and problem solving

ORISE staff members are also trained in the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) and can assist agencies with their preparedness efforts through design, development, execution and evaluation of training and exercises and drills.

Community-Based Workshops and Key Stakeholder Meetings

ORISE provides technical assistance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by convening community-based workshops and key stakeholder meetings aimed at managing a health care surge during a public health emergency.

By identifying and involving key subject matter expert community partners, these two- or three-day workshops/meetings facilitate an environment to develop tools and templates designed to reduce the impact of public health emergencies.

Through this initiative, ORISE has worked with public health departments, health care agencies, emergency management agencies, emergency responders and other key community stakeholders at the local, regional, state and national level to:

  • Identify preparedness needs related to health care delivery among community planners and other stakeholders
  • Develop coordinated strategies for delivering health care to those at home, in the community and the hospital emergency department
  • Develop tools for all sizes of communities to use during a public health emergency

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication

ORISE helps government agencies and organizations plan for sound crisis and emergency risk communication to avoid compounding the challenges of a public health emergency.

Well-planned and well-executed crisis and emergency risk communication, integrated into every stage of the crisis response, can help ensure that limited resources are efficiently directed where truly needed.

This includes how local, state, and federal emergency agencies should communicate among themselves, to the public, and to their stakeholders, as well as what messages they will want to hear to make the best possible decisions about their well-being.

Community and Public Health Education

Preparing for any size public health emergency is a vital part of helping ensure the health of a community. Through coalition building and partnerships, ORISE empowers communities by engaging them in preparedness planning and strategy development.