News Updates

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Preparedness News from ASTHO

Updated “Top Questions on Zika: Simple Answers” Document

ASTHO updated its Top Questions on Zika: Simple Answers document on Dec. 9 to reflect current guidance on the types of genetic material that should be used in testing for pregnant women exposed to Zika (questions 205 and 302). ASTHO welcomes feedback on the document and suggestions for additional questions to include in future versions. Please send any comments or suggestions to

Presentations from ASTHO’s Annual Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting Available Online

ASTHO hosted the 12th Annual Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting in New York City from Oct. 25-27. Federal partners and representatives from states, directly-funded cities, and territories shared best practices and lessons learned from public health preparedness challenges faced in 2016. PowerPoint presentations are now available on ASTHO's website.

Upcoming Opportunities

Scholarships Available for Local Health Departments that have Partnered with Pharmacies 

NACCHO is tentatively planning a workshop for the 2017 Preparedness Summit that will focus on generating practical steps to help local health departments move preparedness planning forward by partnering with pharmacies in their communities. In an effort to locate appropriate speakers and key informants for this session, NACCHO is offering scholarships to local health department staff who have done previous planning work with either chain or independent pharmacies in their communities. Individuals who are willing to discuss how to begin partnerships with pharmacies, common challenges and pitfalls, successful strategies for overcoming barriers, and examples on how to engage pharmacies in exercises or during real-world responses are especially encouraged to apply by Dec. 23. View the full scholarship announcement

Healthcare Coalition Response Leadership Course  

ASPR encourages health care coalitions to apply for the Health Care Coalition Response Leadership course, developed by ASPR’s National Healthcare Preparedness Programs and FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). Target audiences for this course include hospital, emergency medical services, emergency management, and public health agency leaders. The course is offered at FEMA’s CDP in Anniston, Alabama. The course, plus travel, lodging, and meals, is free for non-federal attendees who register through CDP. Please review the attached document for additional information about the course and the application process.

2017 course dates and application submission deadlines:

 Training Week 21: Travel on Tuesday, Feb. 21; Class Wednesday–Friday; Return travel on Saturday, Feb. 25
Application deadline: COB Tuesday, Jan. 10
 Training Week 29: Travel on Monday, April 17; Class Tuesday–Thursday; Return travel on Friday, April 21
Application deadline: COB Tuesday, Feb. 21
 Training Week 41: Travel on Sunday, July 9; Class Monday–Wednesday; Return travel on Thursday, July 13
Application deadline: COB Monday, May 15
 Training Week 51: Travel on Monday, Sept. 18; Class Tuesday–Thursday; Return travel on Friday, Sept. 22
Application deadline: COB Monday, July 24

FBI-CDC Training Workshops on Criminal-Epidemiological Investigation

When and Where:Feb. 27-28 in Honolulu, Apr. 12-13 in Pittsburgh; and June 7-8 in St. Louis
Description: The FBI's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Directorate and CDC are offering multiple free two-day workshops to enhance collaboration between public health and law enforcement professionals during a suspicious biological incident. The Criminal-Epidemiological (Crim-Epi) Investigations trainings will include classroom presentations, breakout group sessions, and tabletop exercises to promote the Crim-Epi Model for conducting joint investigations. Visit NACCHO's website for more information.
Registration: To register, contact your local FBI WMD coordinator or email SSA Kelly Shannon, FBI program manager.

Federal Partner Updates

ASPR TRACIE CMS Emergency Preparedness Rule Resources at Your Fingertips

ASPR TRACIE has developed the initial version of its CMS Emergency Preparedness (EP) Rule Resources at Your Fingertips Document with resources on the 17 provider and supplier types that are affected by the CMS EP rule, considerations for healthcare coalitions, and sample TRACIE technical assistance responses. It also provides information on future and past events, such as the PowerPoint slides, audio recording, and transcript of the Medicare Learning Network National Call EP rule briefing held in early October. ASPR will continue to improve and update this document and its dedicated resource page on the CMS rule as new information and resources become available (e.g., FAQs from CMS and requirements crosswalk table developed through ASPR TRACIE).


On Aug. 10, ASPR’s Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange (TRACIE) and the National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC) hosted a webinar on Lessons Learned in Developing an Effective Regional Ebola CONOPS. This webinar featured speakers from Regions 3 and 4 and their regional Ebola treatment centers discussing successes and challenges experienced while developing regional Ebola CONOPS.  A PowerPoint presentation with a link to the recording (on the first slide) is available on the TRACIE website.

Updated Ebola Topic Collection Now Available on ASPR TRACIE

The Viral Hemorrhagic fever/Ebola Topic Collection on ASPR TRACIE now contains new sub-categories with a wealth of information on:

FEMA Releases Fifth Annual National Preparedness Report 

FEMA and its partners have released the 2016 National Preparedness Report (NPR). The NPR is an annual status report summarizing the nation's progress toward reaching the National Preparedness Goal of a secure and resilient nation.

The 2016 report identifies 37 key findings across the prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery mission areas describing the progress made during 2015 to advance national preparedness. The NPR also identified the following core capabilities as national areas for improvement: cybersecurity, economic recovery, housing, infrastructure systems, natural and cultural resources, and supply chain integrity and security. Each of these core capabilities were challenged differently across the nation. Significant progress has been made over the past five years to increase and maintain the 32 core capabilities. However, continued work remains to enhance and sustain these capabilities to increase the nation's resilience to all threats and hazards.

Visit FEMA's website for a comprehensive summary of the report, fact sheets, and a copy of the full report. If you have any questions, please contact FEMA's Intergovernmental Affairs (IGA) Division at (202) 646-3444 or

2016 Emergency Response Guidebook Released

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) released the 2016 Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG), a go-to manual for first responders in Canada, Mexico, and the United States to use during the initial phase of a transportation incident involving hazardous materials. Changes to the 2012 version for the 2016 version include new sections, expanded and/or revised sections, instructions in flowchart format, index lists of hazardous materials, emergency response guides, and a table of initial isolation and protective actions distances. The ERG is available on the PHMSA website and through the ERG 2016 mobile app for Windows, Android, and iPhones.

HHS Develops Hospital Surge Evaluation Tool

HHS has developed the Hospital Surge Evaluation Tool, a software-based peer assessment tool that builds on the 2012 prototype by the RAND Corporation. The tool aims to help hospitals prepare for mass casualty emergencies by allowing hospital emergency managers, hospital administrators, and clinical staff to conduct tabletop exercises to evaluate their incident command center and emergency department ability to triage and coordinate patient care. Additional information on the tool is available on the ASPR website. For questions about the tool, please contact your HPP Field Project Officer or email

Recent Headlines

Blue Ribbon Study Panel Releases Bipartisan Report on Biodefense

This week, the Blue Ribbon Study Panel on Biodefense released a bipartisan report, titled Biodefense Indicators: One Year Later, Events Outpacing Federal Efforts to Defend the Nation. The report acknowledges positive steps taken over the past year by the White House, Congress, and federal departments and agencies, and urges continued action on the panel's recommendations to improve America’s biodefense capabilities.

New EMAC EM/Public Health TTX Available Now

The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) is pleased to announce the availability of a new Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) Tabletop Exercise (TTX) focused on utilizing public health and medical Mission Ready Packages (MRP). The project, titled Operation Helping Hand, is funded through NEMA cooperative agreements with FEMA, CDC, and HHS/ASPR. The exercise materials are products resulting from five state emergency management and public health MRP workshops, as well as two TTX pilots conducted over the past year through a contract with Hagerty Consulting. The exercise complies with the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program, and each document can be modified for a state’s specific exercise needs. Exercise materials and previously recorded MRP training webinars are available on the EMAC website.  

NEMA strongly encourages states to engage with emergency management, public health, and medical partners in conducting a joint TTX to strengthen EMAC capabilities and the advanced use of MRPs. Please send any feedback you have after conducting the TTX to   

Mobilizing Community Partners to Action: How a Small Vector Control Program Tackled Zika

In this blog post from the Public Health Foundation, Cheryl Clay, public health senior environmentalist for the Madison County Health Department in Madison County, Alabama, describes how she used quality improvement tools to engage community partners and educate residents on preventing Zika. 

Independent Panel Finds U.S. Needs Greater Preparation for Severe Public Health Threats 

In a report released on June 30 by HHS, an independent panel formed to review HHS’s response to Ebola made several recommendations on how the nation’s federal public health system should strengthen its response to major public health threats, both internationally and domestically. Read the UCLA’s press release for an overview of the report.

House Passes Legislation to Strengthen U.S. Disaster Preparedness

The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation introduced by Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) to improve U.S. disaster preparedness and response capabilities. The legislation, Promoting Resilience and Efficiency in Preparing for Attacks and Responding to Emergencies (PREPARE) Act (HR 3583), aims to enhance emergency communications planning and coordination. (Source:

Global Health Impacts of Vector-Borne Diseases: Workshop Summary

In June 2007, the Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a workshop to explore the dynamic relationships among host, pathogen(s), vector(s), and ecosystems that characterize vector-borne diseases. Revisiting this topic in September 2014, the Forum organized a workshop to examine trends and patterns in the incidence and prevalence of vector-borne diseases in an increasingly interconnected and ecologically disturbed world, as well as recent developments to meet these dynamic threats. Participants examined the emergence and global movement of vector-borne diseases, research priorities for understanding their biology and ecology, and global preparedness for and progress toward their prevention, control, and mitigation. This report summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

New Public Health Agency Disaster Recovery Training

The National Center for Disaster Medicine and Public Health (NCDMPH) released a new Public Health System Training in Disaster Recovery (PH STriDR) program for local public health agency workers, which focuses on individual and organizational contributions to disaster recovery. The training consists of four 90-minute, interactive, face-to-face sessions that introduce: the concept of community disaster recovery; the disaster recovery roles of the local public health agency and the individuals who work within it; and potential personal, family, and workplace considerations in the recovery phase.

International Medical Corps

International Medical Corps is a leading global health and medical humanitarian organization with global response experience and expertise in public health, medical services, mental health and psychosocial support services, water, sanitation, and hygiene, and related sectors. The organization can support all hazards and infectious disease/pandemic planning at the national, state, territorial, and local levels; training in preparedness and response; and tabletop and functional exercises.

International Medical Corps is increasing its domestic preparedness and response efforts, including working with states, counties, and hospital coalitions in support of PHEP and HPP. It also has extensive experience and expertise in the Asia-Pacific region, and is available to discuss potential collaboration with Asia-Pacific Island partners in health and medical preparedness and response. Read more on International Medical Corps’ services in the United States. For further information, email Dave Tarantino, MD, MPH, International Medical Corps’ senior physician for medical planning and preparedness.

New Trainings by the National Veterinary Response Team on MRC-TRAIN

The National Veterinary Response Team, the primary federal resource for the treatment of injured or ill animals affected by disaster, has made sixteen new veterinary training modules available on the Medical Reserve Corps’ TRAIN website: 

(A user account is required to access the modules.)

Intermountain Center for Disaster Preparedness

The Intermountain Center for Disaster Preparedness (ICDP), located in Salt Lake City, Utah, provides hands-on, whole community disaster and preparedness training. ICDP staff also provide assistance in developing and executing drills and exercises, evaluating emergency management plans, assessing hazards and vulnerabilities, conducting research in disaster readiness and resilience, and more. Visit their U-Train training website, Facebook page, or contact for course information.