2018 Preparedness Summit—“Strengthening National Health Security: Mastering Ordinary Responses, Building Resilience for Extraordinary Events”

The 2018 Preparedness Summit took place last month at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta, Ga. As the first and longest running national conference on public health preparedness, it drew a wide variety of professionals and experts with a stake in the field—local and state public health department staff; federal agency staff including the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration; representatives from academic and research communities; community health centers, hospitals, and emergency medical services staff; and industry partners on the forefront of new technologies with tools to share.

The theme “Strengthening National Health Security: Mastering Ordinary Responses, Building Resilience for Extraordinary Events” emphasized the need to continue to build preparedness capacity and competency at all levels. As climate change and its numerous effects on communities test the ability to take actions to prepare, respond, and recover from disasters, the Preparedness Summit created an opportunity to discuss the factors driving change in our world, analyze how they will impact the future of public health preparedness, and identify today’s opportunities to drive action toward meeting the demands of extraordinary events.

The conference kicked off with a performance of Broadway musical Rent’s “Seasons of Love” and the national anthem by the Atlanta Music Project and opening remarks by Laura Biesiadecki, senior director for preparedness, National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). Biesiadecki emphasized the importance of exchanging ideas at this event and reflected on the previous year, “2017 was one hell of a year. More weather events were recorded than ever, costing $306 billion and affecting more than 25 million Americans. And we experienced the deadliest year in terms of gun violence and mass shootings. This conference is a place for us to come together and regroup, reset, and re-envision how we can continue to prepare our communities for all the unknown worst-case scenarios we may face.”

Over the course of four days, leaders and subject matter experts in the public health space covered a total of 176 sessions. In addition to the myriad sessions, the conference offered attendees a number of opportunities to network and share best practices and lessons learned with one another. Preparedness Summit participants also took an active role in the virtual sphere via Twitter. Attendees pushed #Prep18 to the top of Atlanta’s trending lists and generated a total of 15.617 million impressions.

As Dr. Umair Shah, president of NACCHO and executive director and local health authority for Harris County Public Health, said at the summit, “There is one certainty. These events will occur and we need to be ready when they do.” In an ever-evolving public health preparedness landscape, talking to one another and strengthening partnerships is of tremendous consequence.

Stay up-to-date on the Preparedness Brief blog in the next few weeks to get a summary of each plenary and late-breaking session.

Access 2018 Preparedness Summit Resources

  • Visit the Preparedness Summit website to get the latest on when abstracts open for the 2019 Preparedness Summit and when to register.
  • To access photos and presentation slides, go to the Preparedness Summit website, click on the “Schedule of Events” tab to go to the full schedule. Log into your account by clicking “My Schedule” on the left column and click the audio icons next to each session.

Save the Date for the 2019 Preparedness Summit

Next year’s Preparedness Summit will take place March 26-29 in St. Louis, Mo.

Since the summit premiered in 2006, NACCHO has taken a leadership role in convening a wide array of partners to participate in the summit; presenting new research findings, sharing tools and resources, and providing a variety of opportunities for attendees to learn how to implement model practices that enhance the nation’s capabilities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

We hope to see you there!

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