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Bureau of Public Health Emergency Preparedness

About the Bureau

  • ADHS Bureau of Public Health Emergency Preparedness
  • Electronic Disease Surveillance Program
  • Education and Preparedness Training
  • Arizona Health Alert Network
  • Preparedness and Planning
  • Risk Communication and Public Information

The Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response was created to detect and respond to natural or intentional disease events. Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is the program mission to ensure that the public health system of Arizona is prepared for public health emergencies.

Risk Communication & Public Information

Public information regarding the potential risks of biological agents and other public health emergencies is a critical component of public health emergency preparedness. Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication is defined by the Centers for Disease Control as “the attempt by science or public health professionals to provide information that assists people in making the best possible decisions during an emergency about their well-being.” Often, this communication must be accomplished within nearly impossible time constraints, with incomplete information and under highly stressful and emotional conditions.

The Risk Communication and Public Information Program aims to enhance overall emergency preparedness efforts by accomplishing four main goals:

  • To enhance the capacity for local and statewide public health communications.
  • To provide needed health/risk information to the public and key partners during a bioterrorism event or public health emergency.
  • To establish critical baseline information about the current communication needs and barriers within individual communities.
  • To identify effective channels of communication for reaching the general public and special needs populations during any public health emergency.

We work to accomplish these goals by:

  1. Creating and Maintaining Partnerships
    • Develop and integrate communication plans with key partners including:
      • County health departments
      • Tribal health organizations
      • Hospitals Other public and private health care organizations
      • Emergency service providers (police, fire, EMS)
      • County and state Emergency Management
      • Other community organizations and agencies
  2. Collecting Information:
    • Assess, on an on-going basis, the state and local risk communication needs for public health emergencies.
    • Assess the needs and communication barriers for hard-to-reach populations in Arizona. The primary populations currently involved in the assessment include tribal, border, non-English speaking, deaf and hard-of-hearing, mentally ill, rural and frontier and low-income populations. ADHS recently released the results of a study focused on identifying communication strategies for reaching hard-to-reach populations in Arizona.
    • Recommend communication strategies to assist local and tribal health departments and other agencies in reaching hard-to-reach population before, during and after a public health emergency.
  3. Planning
    • Develop crisis and risk communication materials for Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication plans (CERC’s) including templates and key messages for emergency public information materials.
    • Ensure that specific risk communication materials have been developed and included in state and local CERC plans. These materials include:
      • Boilerplate press releases for public health emergencies
      • Updated regional and local media contact lists
      • Updated lists of after-hours contact numbers for key partners
      • Updated lists of emergency response information partners
      • Identified methods of information dissemination for public, stakeholders, key partners and hard-to-reach populations (e.g., e-mail listservs, broadcast fax, door-to-door flyers, press releases and others)
    • Serve as a resource for local and tribal health departments in establishing and updating crisis and emergency risk communication plans (CERCs).
  4. Training
    • Coordinate Risk Communication/Media Relations training for state and local level key spokespersons and public health professionals.