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Health Care Provider Guidance

Emergency Preparedness for Every Emergency

Effective Health Care Provider Emergency Planning

Sound, timely planning provides the foundation for effective emergency management.  The response to an emergency can impact an entire community and can involve numerous medical and public health entities, including health care provider systems, public health departments, emergency medical services, medical laboratories, individual health practitioners, and medical support services.

A coordinated response is essential.  Comprehensive emergency management includes the following phases:

Hazard Identification:  Health care providers should make every effort to include any potential hazards that could affect the facility directly and indirectly for the particular area it is located.  Indirect hazards could affect the community but not the provider, and as a result interrupt necessary utilities, supplies or staffing.

Hazard Mitigation:  Hazard mitigation is activities taken to eliminate or reduce the probability of the event, or reduce its severity or consequences, either prior to or following a disaster or emergency.

The emergency plan should include mitigation processes for both residents and staff.  Mitigation details should address care for the facility residents, and how the facility will educate staff in protecting themselves in the likelihood of an emergency.  Comprehensive hazard mitigation efforts, including staff education, will aid in reducing staffs' vulnerability to potential hazards.  These activities precede any imminent or post-impact timeframe, and are considered part of the response.

Preparedness:  Preparedness includes developing a plan to address how the provider will meet the needs of patients and residents if essential services breakdown as a result of a disaster.  It will be the product of a review of the basic facility information, the hazard analysis, and an analysis of the provider's ability to continue providing care and services during an emergency.  It also includes training staff on their role in the emergency plan, testing the plan, and revising the plan as needed.

Response:  Activities immediately before (for an impending threat), during and after a hazard impact to address the immediate and short-term effects of the emergency.

Recovery:  Activities and programs implemented during and after response that are designed to return the facility to its usual state or a "new normal."

Recommendations and helpful tools were developed with the input of the S&C Emergency Preparedness Stakeholder Communication Forum, including representatives from the following agencies:

  • State Survey Agencies
  • Accrediting Organizations
  • Provider Associations
  • Patient and Resident Advocates
  • National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center
  • HHS Administration on Aging (AoA)
  • HHS Office of Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR)
  • HHS Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • HHS Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ)
  • Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Click on the links in the Downloads section below to access several recommended voluntary emergency preparedness tools to assist health care providers (including their patients and residents) in their planning efforts.