Enhancing Public Health Emergency Preparedness for Special Needs Populations

A Toolkit for State and Local Planning and Response

by Jeanne S. Ringel, Anita Chandra, Malcolm Williams, Karen A. Ricci, Alexandria Felton, David M. Adamson, Margaret M. Weden, Meilinda Huang

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Abstract

Experiences from recent emergencies, such as Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, have shown that current emergency preparedness plans are inadequate to address the unique issues of special needs populations. This toolkit is meant to assist state and local public health agencies improve their emergency preparedness activities. It distills the most relevant strategies, practices, and resources from a variety of sources, including peer-reviewed research, government reports, the trade literature, and public health leaders, to identify priority populations and critical strategies. The contents include potential strategies for addressing special needs, summaries of promising practices implemented in communities across the country, information on how to select one or more practices that will work in a specific community, information on how to determine whether a practice is working, and a Web-based Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tool to identify and enumerate those with special needs in communities across the United States. Used together, this toolkit and the GIS tool are intended to provide a comprehensive resource to enable public health planners to account for special needs populations in their emergency preparedness efforts.

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Funding for this toolkit was provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS ASPR) and was executed by the Center for Public Health Preparedness within RAND Health.

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