The Role of Your Health Department in Disaster and Emergency Preparedness

Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program Fact Sheet (PDF)

What We Do

The Prince George’s County Health Department’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP) develops preparedness plans for mass dispensing of medication and vaccinations, conducts disease surveillance and epidemiologic investigations, survey's emergency communications, assesses electronic laboratory test reporting, conducts professional workforce training, and facilitates and partakes in exercises and drills.

The PHEP staff is experienced in Emergency Preparedness, and consists of staff specialists in environmental health, disease control, nursing, incident command, and hazardous materials, among other topics.

PHEP is responsible for the coordination of all Health related responses to emergencies by efficiently mitigating, preparing for, responding to, and recovering from any natural, technological or manmade emergency or disaster, regardless of size or complexity, including acts of terrorism.

  • Mitigation - the reduction or elimination of future risk
  • Preparedness - practice state of readiness to respond
  • Response - immediate reaction or relief that saves lives
  • Recovery - process of repair and restoration

Our Accomplishments

In a letter from the Executive Director of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Chair of the Project Public Health Ready Oversight Council, Prince George’s County Health Department was recognize as meeting the criteria established for the Project Public Health Ready (PPHR). This certification solidified the preparedness efforts of the Health Department with an all hazards response approach.

The process to achieve this certification involved the compilation and verification of a wide variety of competencies—our application for the PPHR totaled over 500 pages of plans, procedures, reports and recommendations. The Project Public Health Ready Oversight Council (PPHROC) reviewed all applications, which were submitted to PPHR judging in three key areas: emergency preparedness planning; workforce competency development and demonstration of readiness through exercises/simulations. Based on our ability to demonstrate that we have substantially met the criteria in each area, the Oversight Council recognized Prince George's County Health Department as being Project Public Health Ready.

Prince George’s County Health Department, which is one of the few Health Departments in the country to have Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program, served as a pilot site for the project. Under the guidance of a program chief, disease control specialist, health nurse and two environmental sanitarians, Prince George's County is now one of two counties in Maryland and jurisdictions in 17 states that have met the PPHR criteria.

“For the past several years, we’ve been working on our response to threats of bioterrorism,” said Gwendolyn T. Clerkley, Acting Health Officer. “In achieving the Project Public Health Ready certification, I know we’re also ready to respond to “all-hazard” emergencies as well.”

PPHR is a collaborative activity between the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The program’s mission is to prepare staff working in public health agencies at the local governmental level to respond to all-hazard emergencies and to protect the public's health through a competency-based training and recognition program.

For more information about Project Public Health Ready, visit the NACCHO web site at http://www.naccho.org/topics/emergency/pphr.cfm.