September is National Preparedness Month, a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to take simple steps to be prepared for emergencies in their homes, businesses, and schools. During this month-long initiative, federal, state, and local governments, non-profits, and volunteer organizations implement programs and trainings to educate Americans about the importance of individual and family preparedness.1 An initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), this year’s theme for National Preparedness Month is Pledge to Prepare. There are numerous opportunities for individuals, organizations, and businesses to fulfill the pledge and become better prepared for disasters, including connecting with current and new partners and developing event ideas and resources.
The importance of having a prepared public health workforce that is able to prevent, respond to, and rapidly recover from public health threats is critical for protecting our nation’s health.2 In 2011, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (OPHPR) defined a set of public health preparedness capabilities - the Public Health Preparedness Capabilities - to assist state and local health departments with strategic planning. These capabilities break down public health preparedness into five domains (biosurveillance, community resilience, countermeasures and mitigation, incident management, and information management), which represent the foundational aspects of public health preparedness.3 Previously, in 2010, OPHPR, along with the Association of Schools of Public Health developed the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model, a national framework for competency-based curricula and training and for performance benchmarks to measure public health preparedness and response. Together, the Public Health Preparedness Capabilities and the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model establish a standard for preparedness and a foundation for training needs across the public health workforce.
Through collaboration between OPHPR and TRAIN, the premier learning resource for public health professionals, the Public Health Preparedness Capabilities and the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model were incorporated into TRAIN, allowing training providers to assign one or more of the capabilities and/or competencies to their offerings. Both capabilities and competencies can serve as starting points for organizations to create training plans within TRAIN based on the needs of employees in the field of preparedness. At the same time, these frameworks can be used to gauge organizational and individual preparedness. Through TRAIN, the progress of these employees can be tracked over time to measure proficiency and competency in the Public Health Preparedness Capabilities and the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model.
During National Preparedness Month, TRAIN will be promoting the PHPR hashtag (#PHPR) via social media (Twitter and Facebook) to spread awareness of trainings that have been assigned Public Health Preparedness Capabilities and/or competencies from the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model. Through social media, organizations can tag messages relating to preparedness with the PHPR hashtag (#PHPR), which will allow public health professionals to more easily locate relevant preparedness training information. The TRAIN Community encourages public health organizations supporting National Preparedness Month to promote usage of the PHPR hashtag (#PHPR) in September and into the future.
Register or log on to TRAIN today to explore opportunities to enhance your awareness of public health preparedness, the Public Health Preparedness Capabilities, and the Public Health Preparedness and Response Core Competency Model. You can also learn more about preparedness activities and resources on FEMA’s National Preparedness Month site.
1 http://www.fema.gov/news-release/make-september-your-month-get-ready-its-national-preparedness-month. Accessed July 30, 2012.
2 http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/capabilities/DSLR_capabilities_July.pdf. Accessed July 31, 2012.
3 http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/capabilities/DSLR_capabilities_July.pdf. Accessed August 1, 2012.