On Public Health Security - September 2015

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 Promoting Preparedness at Home for our Workforce:  The Ready CDC Program


On Public Health Security
September 2015
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Stephen C. Redd

Dear Partners,

We are midway through preparedness month, and the activities and information sharing that is underway surrounding community resilience have been incredibly beneficial so far. Community resilience starts with personal preparedness, which is why I wanted to share with you the latest information about our Ready CDC pilot program; this program promotes personal preparedness within the CDC workforce. CDC works around the clock preparing and responding to public health emergencies, and we recognize that our ability to respond depends on our staff having plans in place to ensure their family’s needs are taken care of during an emergency. With our CDC families protected, we hope that our employees will be able to support our mission when we need them the most.

Ready CDC Logo

Ready CDC began in 2013, when CDC partnered with the American Red Cross and state and local emergency management agencies to develop and pilot a program promoting personal preparedness for our CDC staff. Ready CDC goes beyond awareness that preparedness is important and moves participants to take action, such as gathering a basic preparedness kit, developing and practicing a written family disaster plan, and accessing county emergency preparedness resources. The program brings together content from CDC, American Red Cross, and FEMA, and uses core concepts from FEMA’s Ready Program, focusing them specifically on ways to promote personal preparedness within a workforce community. Local partners tailor the Ready CDC content to the participants’ county of residence. The partners then work hand-in-hand with the Ready CDC team, training CDC staff about concrete steps they can take at home to prepare for emergencies. The participation of local partners has been critical to the success of this program, with participants benefitting from the knowledge of preparedness experts from their own communities.

Since its inception, Ready CDC has held eleven cohorts for Metro Atlanta and one in Morgantown, West Virginia. The program’s most recent workshop was in Ft. Collins, Colorado, in August of this year. Preparedness experts from the Larimer County Office of Emergency Management, the American Red Cross, and Colorado Emergency Management assisted in conducting the Ready CDC workshop. We are already seeing results from the Ready CDC program—interim results suggest workshop attendees have developed emergency kits (22% increase) and developed written emergency plans (19% increase). Additionally, interim results suggest the program increased participants’ community engagement and planning behaviors, such as signing up for local community alerts on their phones (15% increase) and learning what it means when they hear their community’s outdoor warning sirens (23% increase). The program shared with me the comments of Kevin Beggs, a participant from Ft. Collins, Colorado, who is an Occupational Health and Safety Specialist. Kevin lives in rural Larimer County, Colorado, and was affected by the Hewlett Gulch and High Park wildfires in 2012:

“I was woken up around 3am by loud speakers in the middle of the night telling everyone to “Get out!” I look behind my house and all I see is blood red. The fire was coming right for us. I was woefully unprepared. I have two large dogs, my dad, and I couldn’t get my dogs in the truck [who were ultimately loaded safely into the truck with the help of the US Forestry Service]. It was too late and we didn’t take anything with us. It was really scary and very stressful. We were in a hotel for over two weeks.” When asked about Ready CDC, Beggs said, “The one thing I’ve taken away from the Ready CDC training is that I will have a hand crank radio today, stuff for my dogs, and a packed go-bag. I will do this. I don’t have an excuse.”

Additional Ready CDC workshops are planned for the rest of this year and into 2016—five in the Atlanta area and two more at other CDC campuses outside of Atlanta. In support of preparedness month, the first article using Ready CDC data was recently published in the MMWR, describing the influence of preparedness knowledge and beliefs on household preparedness. Future activities of the Ready CDC team include preparing additional manuscripts for publication, expanding the program to the broader CDC community, and developing a toolkit for program implementation at external organizations.

I look forward to sharing the toolkit and more research results with you as they become available. In the meantime, please email ready@cdc.gov for more information. If your organization has initiatives that are promoting personal and workplace preparedness, email us at PHPRPartners@cdc.gov. The Ready CDC team is always looking for ways to enhance our program and we would like to learn from you.

As for preparedness month, there are still two weeks to go, and more activities! Don’t miss the Twitter Chat on September 16 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EDT, hosted by @CDCemergency. We’ll focus on how we prepare all of our communities for emergencies. Also, please sign up for our Thunderclap, which will go live on September 30 at 12:00 p.m. EDT. We hope to encourage individuals to begin building a strong community. We look forward to you joining us for both events.

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

Noteworthy Events and Resources

September 30 is National PreparaAthon Day!
Join the nation in a grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness. Connect with others around the country in sharing your preparedness practices.

Learn about Preparedness Month Resources from our Partners
Many of our PHPR Partners have shared their resources and events for preparedness month. Learn more on our partnerships website.

NEMA’s Annual Forum is Fast Approaching
The NEMA Annual Forum will be held in Miami, Florida, from September 28 through October 1. Topics will range from economic resilience, energy assurance, and how to advance our nation’s disaster recovery initiatives. It’s a great opportunity for emergency managers to come together and share ideas on improving the nation’s security.

APHA's 143rd Annual Meeting and Exposition
Join APHA and over 12,000 public health professionals for their Annual Meeting and Exposition taking place October 31 through November 4 in Chicago, Illinois. This year’s theme is Health in All Policies and attendance is sure to be worthwhile with 1,000 sessions to choose from! Registration is still open so don’t miss out!

Want to Take Part in the NACCHO 2016 Preparedness Summit?
Submit you your abstract now! The 2016 summit theme is “Planning Today for Rebuilding Tomorrow: Focusing on Resiliency and Recovery in the 21st Century.” Abstract submissions will be accepted until September 30. Start your abstract today.