There is an old English proverb that states a smooth sea never made a skilled mariner, so I venture to say we are better mariners given the challenge of the government shutdown in October. It is great to be able to reach out to you again. When I last wrote to you, I shared with you our excitement over the 10th anniversary of the Emergency Operations Center. In October, we had another milestone to celebrate.
Since December 2011, one of the key priorities of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) has been to seek accreditation of CDC’s Emergency Management Program. On October 7, 2013, we were the first federal agency to receive full accreditation from the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. The accreditation is a tremendous achievement for CDC, representing our deep commitment to continually enhance our ability to respond to public health emergencies. Let me share with you some details of our Emergency Management Program, the purpose of accreditation, and the tangible benefits we have seen already by becoming accredited.
The CDC Emergency Management Program Brings the Agency Together To Respond to Emergencies
The Emergency Management Program at CDC is a single, integrated program where emergency management principals and public health practice come together so that CDC can most effectively respond to public health emergencies. Administered by the PHPR Division of Emergency Operations, the program focuses on prevention, protection, mitigation, and response and recovery activities. The program enables us to pull from across CDC for subject matter experts as needed during all stages of emergencies.
Accreditation Ensures that Organizations Meet the Highest Standards for Emergency Management
The Emergency Management Accreditation Program, or EMAP, is an independent non-profit organization that promotes excellence and accountability in emergency management by establishing credible standards applied in a peer review accreditation process. EMAP's foundation comes from agreed-upon national standards developed with input from emergency managers and state and local government officials. In addition to the standards, the accreditation process has extensive requirements for documentation and verification. Although CDC is the only entire federal agency that has been accredited, we are joining many of our partners – numerous state and local governments are accredited.
CDC has Greatly Enhanced its Emergency Management Program through Accreditation
The nearly two years that it took to achieve accreditation represents a tremendous amount of worthwhile reflection, review, and improvements so that we could document our ability to meet the standards. This full evaluation of our Emergency Management Program required coordination and information from CDC staff across the agency, and I am so appreciative of everyone’s contributions. We already have seen real benefits from the accreditation process; the items below provide you a sense of what we have accomplished:
Identified performance improvement opportunities, enhanced management, and strengthened relations with emergency management stakeholders from across the agency;
- Improved existing emergency planning though the creation of the All-Hazards Plan, CDC’s guidance outlining readiness, response, and initial recovery actions undertaken by CDC, done in coordination with partners;
- Created CDC’s Emergency Management Program Framework document, which describes the CDC Emergency Management Program’s vision, strategy, implementation, method, and schedule for program’s effectiveness; and
- Updated CDC's continuity of operations plan (COOP) for CDC employees to ensure that essential functions could continue to be performed during the types of emergencies that make it impossible for employees to work at their regular facility (e.g., building fire or laboratory chemical spill).
The work that CDC has undertaken to achieve accreditation is just the beginning. We look forward to continuing our efforts to keep improving and maintain our accreditation. For those of our partners that have already been accredited, we are glad to join you in working with a common set of emergency management standards. For those of you interested in accreditation, please go to the EMAP website for more information. We hope you join us as we all work towards our common goal of building safer communities.
Ali S. Khan, MD MPH
Assistant Surgeon General (retired) & Director
Office of Public Health Preparedness & Response
DHHS/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention