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Environmental Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Framework

In 2022, we established a Community of Practice (CoP) to guide the development and review of environmental public health disaster readiness resources. With the support of the CoP, we began the process of developing a list of core capabilities and functions necessary for effectively responding to environmental public health threats during emergencies and disasters. The draft Environmental Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPHEPR) capability framework is now available to help state, tribal, local, and territorial (STLT) jurisdictions better assess and strengthen their readiness to address core public health issues in disasters. As a guidance resource, the draft EPHEPR framework supports public health agencies in formally integrating environmental public health into their emergency preparedness, response, and recovery planning and coordination activities within the health agency. It also serves to more clearly define the roles and responsibilities of cross-sector partner organizations, further strengthening emergency management across the public health system.

The EPHEPR capability framework is divided into 15 functional areas, with corresponding tasks that provide tactical-level explanation of each function that serves to protect against health threats in the environment.​ Each function is a priority EPH service essential to ensuring the safety of communities.

  • Function 1: Identify EPH Risks for the Affected Population and Design Plan for Mitigation
  • Function 2: Coordinate EPH Response and Resources
  • Function 3: Ensure the Safety and Integrity of Water Systems
  • Function 4: Ensure the Safety and Integrity of Solid Waste/Debris Management Systems
  • Function 5: Ensure the Safety and Integrity of Wastewater Systems
  • Function 6: Ensure the Safety of Emergency Shelters
  • Function 7: Ensure the Integrity of Food Supply and Delivery Systems
  • Function 8: Ensure the Safety and Integrity of Buildings
  • Function 9: Ensure the Safety of Indoor/Outdoor Air
  • Function 10: Provide Vector Surveillance and Control
  • Function 11: Provide EPH Support to Hazardous Material Management
  • Function 12: Provide EPH Support to Radiological Management
  • Function 13: Ensure the Safety of Recreational Water
  • Function 14: Conduct Open Water Monitoring
  • Function 15: Ensure Effective Environmental Sampling

Explore the Tasks

During a disaster, there may be a need to increase the number of people performing a task, which can be performed by a combination of governmental agencies at different levels as well as by cross-sector organizational partners (e.g., private sector, non-governmental agencies). Agencies are not expected to be independently responsible for all tasks, as the ability to perform the functions relies heavily on partnerships. Additionally, agency functions may vary across jurisdictions. It is important to understand that the draft EPHEPR capability framework is made available as a reference document and planning guide for EPH disaster readiness and does not serve as a prescription for program or resource requirements.​

While not specifically listed as EPH functions within the framework, the following are cross-cutting emergency management functions that the EPH workforce supports:

  • Communication, including risk communication
  • Responder safety
  • Assuring health equity during emergencies and disasters

For example, EPH operates through appropriate National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) communication channels to communicate environmental public health risks and provide suggested actions to the public. Emergency disaster responders need to prioritize personal safety, including the use of PPE and situational awareness regarding potential health risks they are likely to encounter while engaging in response and recovery efforts. Additionally, to address health equity, EPH maintains situational awareness of vulnerable populations and ensures disaster response is conducted equitably among affected populations.​