On Public Health Security - August 2015 - Preparedness Month 2015

PHPR Focusing on Community Resilience for Preparedness Month: A Preview for September

 

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On Public Health Security
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August 2015
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,

Every year we are faced with the possibility of a public health emergency that could affect our infrastructure, impact our economy, and overwhelm our communities. To lessen the impact of disasters, we must think proactively about areas in which careful planning can make a difference – next month offers us a great opportunity to do so. September will mark the 12th Annual National Preparedness Month, and the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) will focus on all-hazard preparedness and the importance of building communities that can withstand, adapt, and quickly recover from events. To have a strong, resilient community, we must prepare at several different levels of day-to-day life; we need to start at home with our families, and then expand to include neighborhoods, workplaces and schools, travel, and online communities. I wanted to share some information with you about each of these critical areas, along with a few upcoming preparedness month highlights I encourage you to look into during September.

Family. For the first week of Preparedness Month, PHPR will focus on getting families prepared. We recognize each family has unique needs, which is why it is so important for families to create plans to make sure those needs are addressed. Our first Public Health Matters Blog for the month will be written by a mother and will describe how important preparedness planning has been for her family. Our partners ASPR and ACF are also hosting a live Twitter Chat on September 3 at 1:00 p.m. EDT about caring for young kids in emergencies – use #Prep4Moms to join the conversation.

Neighborhood. The second week will focus on neighborhood preparedness. Those living nearest to you are most likely the first to offer help or benefit from help you can provide during an emergency – close-knit neighborhoods are more resilient during a disaster. Make sure to check out the blog that week, to read about Los Angeles County’s community preparedness efforts for the Special Olympics.

Work and School. The third week will look at work and school, where so much time is spent, making it essential to have a plan in place. We’ll discuss school emergency plans, explore business preparedness planning, and share about a recent exercise at a Costco warehouse in Virginia, which looked at how businesses can partner with public health to dispense life-saving medicines to the community in an emergency.

Global Travel. During week four, we will turn our focus to global health and being prepared when traveling abroad. Now more than ever, infectious diseases can spread rapidly as we become more connected through international travel. A world traveler will be our guest blogger and will share with us how to be best prepared when traveling far from home. Be sure to visit our blog that week.

Online Communities. The last few days of the month will look at the power of social media and how it can be used to promote preparedness. We will have an exciting blog by Next Door, an online neighborhood social network, which will address how social media tools can be leveraged during a disaster.

On Wednesday, September 16, @CDCemergency will host a Twitter Chat from 2:00-3:00 p.m. The conversation will focus on how we prepare all of our communities for emergencies, including work, school, and beyond. We’ll be using the hashtag #CDCprep.

What I shared with you above is just a sampling of PHPR preparedness month activities. For more information, visit our website, which will have additional updates as we ramp up to September. National Preparedness Month involves more than 3,000 organizations with critical messages about preparedness, and its success depends heavily on involving you, our partners. Please share your plans so we can cross-promote and expand the reach of our activities. We would also like for you to join a Thunderclap, a social media tool that allows supporters to sign up in advance to share a unified message at a specific time via their individual Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr accounts. The collective action creates a wave of support – or “thunderclap” – across social media. Sign up now to support our Thunderclap, which will go live on September 30 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, encouraging individuals to meet their neighbors and start building a strong community. Working together, we will be better prepared for public health emergencies.

Thank you,
Stephen C. Redd, MD
RADM, USPHS
Director, Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Hurricane Katrina 10 Year Anniversary
Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast and affected millions of Americans. Responders from all over the country came to the aid of those affected, and that work is still ongoing. This summer commemorates ten years of dedication to rebuilding those affected communities and making a healthier, stronger, and more resilient Gulf Coast. Learn more about how to get involved here.


Resources:

ASTHO’s Directors of Public Health Preparedness Resource Guide
The guide focuses on national preparedness endeavors, ASTHO resources and activities, and various methods of information sharing. The guide includes preparedness themes that are important to state and territorial health agencies, and is a valuable resource for all public health officials.