National Preparedness Month: Engaging Local Health Departments and Medical Reserve Corps Units

IMG_20141111_104252September offers a wide range of public health awareness events for local health departments (LHDs) and Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Units to get involved in, so why should September’s National Preparedness Month be a priority? The answer is simple: preparedness work is a big part of what public health officials and volunteers do. Yet, although LHD and MRC Unit preparedness efforts are extremely valuable, they often lack the necessary capacity and support to fully prepare agencies to respond to all emergencies, and sometimes go unnoticed altogether. National Preparedness Month, an annual effort led by one of NACCHO’s largest national partners, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), presents an opportunity for LHDs and MRC Units to showcase this important work and engage their partners and community members in preparedness activities.

Oftentimes, widespread interest and support for public health preparedness comes on the heels of a major disaster. Unfortunately, once the dust settles, media attention dissolves, and the impacted area is on its way to recovery, the value of preparedness efforts become a distant memory until the next emergency hits. This type of reactive mindset underscores the importance of raising awareness about preparedness, and not just response capacity, but also, strategies for prevention and community resilience.

To celebrate this year’s National Preparedness Month, the CDC is focusing on the “Power of Preparedness” and designating a specific theme for each week, including: prepare globally, prepare to respond, prepare locally, prepare together, and prepare yourself. In an effort to highlight useful preparedness resources and model practices for LHDs and MRC Units in these areas, NACCHO’s Preparedness Brief Blog will include weekly feature articles centering on each of the five themes. The CDC is also hosting a preparedness and community resilience focused Twitter Chat on Tuesday, September 27 at 1:00pm ET. LHDs and MRC Units are encouraged to join the conversation by following @CDCemergency and #CDCprep2016. Finally, in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the CDC is promoting the PrepareAthon initiative, culminating with a “National Day of Action” on September 30. This campaign aims to increase emergency preparedness and resilience through federal agency-led hazard-specific drills, group discussions, and national level exercises.

As a voice for LHDs and MRC Units, NACCHO is launching a number of activities to encourage local jurisdictions to participate and engage their communities during National Preparedness Month. More specifically, there are three ways, listed below, that LHDs and MRC Units can receive national recognition for leading preparedness-related activities or promoting their work in this field throughout September.

Take the NACCHO Preparedness Pledge

PrepPledge-SocialMediaBadgeFor the second year in a row, NACCHO is launching the Preparedness Pledge campaign. Through this pledge, LHDs and MRC Units can make a commitment to conducting activities that promote preparedness throughout the month of September. To take the pledge, an LHD or MRC Unit representative needs to fill out this short survey, providing a summary of their agency’s planned Preparedness Month activities. As a special recognition for participating LHDs and MRC Units,

NACCHO created a social media badge for agencies to publically announce their commitment to the Preparedness Pledge. After completing the survey, LHD and MRC Units are encouraged to download the badge at this link, and make it their Twitter or Facebook profile image during September. The badge may also be used to create a pinned Tweet or Facebook Post, announcing an LHD or MRC Unit as a Preparedness Pledge participant. All organizations taking the pledge will be contacted to complete a post-pledge survey in October determining whether or not they were able to fulfill their initial pledge. Pledge takers demonstrating innovative or outstanding practices will be recognized in a future post on the NACCHO Preparedness Brief Blog.

Enter the NACCHO Preparedness Month Photo Contest

This year, NACCHO is providing an additional recognition opportunity for those taking the Preparedness Pledge by further highlighting preparedness activities in the NACCHO Preparedness Month Photo Contest. To enter the contest, pledge participants are asked to share photos depicting the various preparedness activities they are doing as a part of the pledge, either via their Social Media accounts or by sending photos directly to NACCHO. All photo entries will be shared via the NACCHO Facebook and Twitter accounts. Three winning photo entries, selected by the NACCHO Preparedness team, will be highlighted in a post via the NACCHO Preparedness Brief Blog, and featured at the opening plenary session during the 2017 Preparedness Summit Conference. LHDs or MRC units need to complete three steps to enter the contest:

(1) Download and complete the Photo Contest Sign;
(2) Take a photo during one of their preparedness activities incorporating the completed sign; and
(3) Share the photo via the LHD/MRC Facebook or Twitter account, tagging NACCHO and using hashtags #Pledge4Prep and #NatlPrep.

As a note, LHDs/MRC Units without social media accounts can also enter by sending NACCHO their photo entry and a description of the activity via email by October 5, 2016.

To download the Photo Contest Sign and for the full contest rules, please click here.

Submit an Abstract for the NACCHO Preparedness Summit

The third and final way LHDs and MRC Units can promote their preparedness efforts during this year’s Preparedness Month is to submit an abstract for NACCHO’s 2017 Preparedness Summit Conference.  The Summit is the premier national conference in the field of public health and healthcare preparedness, delivering cross-disciplinary opportunities to share new research and practices with nearly 1,700 colleagues from across the nation. This year’s Summit will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from April 25-28, 2017. The 2017 theme is Forces of Change: Capabilities, Innovation, and Partnerships. Visit the Preparedness Summit website to submit an abstract today and stay up to date on all of the conference details.

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