February 11, 2020

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Don't keep this great resource to yourself! Please share it with your colleagues and networks. If you would like more information on Emergency Preparedness and Response, visit CDC's Emergency Preparedness & Response website.

2019 Novel Coronavirus


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. CDC features a FAQ webpage that can answer many questions you may have and a microsite that contains updated information and guidance as they become available. 


EPIC Webinar


CDC EPIC Webinar February 19 at 1 p.m. ET: Fundamentals of Emergency Planning for Schools with REMS TA Center


Girl wearing pink sparkly back pack walking hand-in-hand with her father


Emergency planning is critical for all, but especially for at-risk populations, as they depend on others planning for them and helping to keep them safe. Schools are a primary example; our youth spend most of their time during the year within the custody of schools and school personnel. Developing a high-quality school emergency operations plan is critical to keep youth safe. These plans should account for all settings and all times and include all possible threats and hazards. They also need to account for access and functional needs for the whole school community. Such plans should be supported by leadership, built through a collaborative process, and customized to the building level.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Supportive Schools administers the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance (REMS TA) Center—the national TA center serving public and nonpublic education agencies with their comprehensive school preparedness efforts (including school safety, security, and emergency management). Please join us on February 19 at 1 p.m. ET for a webinar with the REMS TA Center’s Project Director and Deputy Project Director, and the U.S. Department of Education’s project administrator. They will share information on the fundamentals of emergency planning for schools and resources available to support comprehensive planning efforts. 


Learning Opportunities and Resources

NPHIC Outbreak Communications Guide

When a disease outbreak occurs, public health communicators need to be prepared. The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) developed this Outbreak Communications Guide as part of its cooperative agreement with CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
This guide may not cover every aspect of an outbreak; however, it is a good place to start. The steps outlined will help guide your actions before, during, and after an outbreak.

Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication Webinars

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) training can help responders and public health professionals prepare to communicate in an emergency. CERC trainings are based on lessons learned during public health emergencies and evidence-based practices from the fields of risk and crisis communication, and psychology. CE accreditation for CERC webinar offerings will expire May 1, 2020, and will not be renewed. CERC web-based training will continue to offer CEUs and CHES Category I continuing education contact hours.


EPIC Exclusive: Corporation for National Community Service

Corporation for National Community Service Disaster Response Team gathered together for a group picture


What is the mission of your organization?  

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) is a federal agency that engages millions of Americans in service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corps programs and leads the nation's volunteering and service efforts. CNCS’s mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. 

What is the role of your organization in a public health emergency?

Our Disaster Services Unit leads and coordinates National Service support between our programs, FEMA, state service commissions, and other partners and stakeholders during disasters and emergencies. While CNCS is not officially tasked with public health emergencies, through our National Service programs, our members and volunteers may assist with public health information distribution and support services at the local, state, and national level. During the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis, National Service members and volunteers distributed water, assisted with water filtration supply access and installation, and supported information distribution to all parts of the community.  

How do you plan for emergencies?

We have a broad approach to planning for emergencies:

  • We have an internal Disaster Services Framework for our agency that outlines the roles and responsibilities for our programs and departments during times of disaster.
  • After every disaster response operation, we hold after-action meetings to identify lessons learned, inform our future planning, and identify and develop “improvement projects” to enhance our future operations. 
  • We participate in national level exercises and simulations with our federal and state partners.
  • We develop and deliver training to our network and partners on disaster response, recovery, and preparedness. We also participate in National VOAD and other conferences to share information about National Service support in times of disaster.

What is one experience or lesson-learned that you have from an emergency response?

As an agency, we have had several responses that taught us a great deal, but perhaps the biggest watershed moment of learning for us was Hurricane Sandy. Responding to this storm was unique in many ways; it challenged our AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams (A-DRTs), who were used to rural response, with heightened planning and logistics necessary for an urban response. We learned that in order to be successful and efficient, our A-DRTs needed to work more cohesively and share common operating standards. This response pushed us to adapt the Incident Command System for our operations, create common training for all our A-DRTs, and reinvigorate our staff to provide on-the-ground support to our teams through our CNCS Disaster Cadre program. As a result, the unprecedented 2017 hurricane season found our Disaster Services Unit, a team of three people at the time, capably managing over 500 A-DRT personnel a day for many months in four locations (TX, FL, PR, USVI) at the highest level of operations complexity and magnitude.  

What is one piece of advice that you would give to other EPIC partners?

Commit to the planning cycle: make the plan, exercise the plan, learn from real-world implementation, and revise the plan. The time and energy we devoted to planning after Hurricane Sandy was vital to our overwhelmingly successful 2017 hurricane responses.  

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