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Last Updated July 2020

Emergency preparedness for healthcare

Healthcare facilities and their staff play a key role in emergency preparedness and response efforts for all types of events, including natural or man-made disasters, pandemic outbreaks or terrorist attacks. The availability of healthcare services is essential to accommodate the surge in demand that accompanies an emergency or disaster. This website is intended to assist healthcare facilities with all aspects of emergency planning, including mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. Included on these pages are basic tools and resources from Premier and federal governmental agencies.

With growing awareness of the significance of healthcare facilities’ response to emergencies, many are reassessing and upgrading their existing emergency preparedness plans. General elements of emergency management for healthcare facilities include mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

  • Premier – Disaster Preparedness and Response Resources This site provides resources and tools for Premier members to support their preparation and potential response activities. Members will find preparation checklists, proposed disaster playbooks, monthly tips, supplier, regulatory and support offerings, and real-time updates during and immediately following a disaster (member log in required). Resources are available for the following disaster-specific situations:
    • Active Shooters
    • Biohazards and Epidemics
    • Chemical and Hazardous Materials Emergencies
    • Cybersecurity
    • Earthquakes
    • Flooding
    • Hail
    • Hurricanes/Tornadoes
    • Volcanoes
    • Wildfires
    • Winter Storms
  • CDC – The Healthcare Preparedness and Response website features healthcare preparedness tools and resources to help communities plan for public health emergencies. Resources for clinicians can be found under both the “Clinical Resources” and “Planning Resources”
  • CDC – Public Health Preparedness Resources
  • CDC – Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA). COCA prepares clinicians to respond to emerging health threats and public health emergencies by communicating relevant, timely information related to disease outbreaks, disasters, terrorism events and other health alerts.
  • CDC – Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) training and tools
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) – An online listing of state offices and agencies of emergency management is available here.
  • FEMA – ASPR TRACIE – This website maintains information and technical assistance resources for healthcare coalitions, healthcare entities, healthcare providers, emergency managers, public health practitioners, those working in disaster medicine, healthcare system preparedness and public health emergency preparedness.
  • U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS) – The HHS Response and Recovery Resources Compendium site provides links to numerous tools, resources and situational awareness portals published by non-governmental and governmental partners.

Agencies of the U.S. government (specifically the CDC, FDA and FEMA) offer a considerable number of resources for emergency management preparedness and response. Public health professionals and clinicians can find training assistance for virtually all disciplines and levels of responsibility.

Confusion and chaos are commonly experienced by the hospital at the onset of a disaster. However, these negative effects can be minimized if management responds quickly with structure and a focused direction of activities. In addition, emergency plans need to be coordinated at the local community level, based on the individual needs of the community. The Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) is an emergency management system employing a logical management structure, defined responsibilities, clear reporting channels and a common nomenclature to help unify hospitals with other emergency responders.

When the situation escalates to a level that endangers the health and/or safety of the facilities patents, staff and visitors’, evacuation of the endangered areas is necessary. Safety and continuity of care among evacuees during a disaster depend on planning, preparedness and mitigation activities performed before the event occurs.

Facilities should continuously reassess their emergency readiness plans. All facets of planning must be re-examined; most importantly, coordination with local emergency planning agencies in surrounding communities as well as communications with local and state public health should be enhanced.

  • The American Hospital Association provides a number of tools and resources that are both timely and useful in assessing and reassessing emergency readiness plans.