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Recent hurricanes, fires and other disasters remind me of the importance of community preparedness/emergency management/disaster relief. If you are looking for a way to help people, consider this public health area as your full-time, part-time or volunteer focus. We need a wide variety of engaged experts and “civilians” to develop effective planning, response and support systems!


The American Journal of Public Health article below defines and describes public health emergency preparedness, e.g., for a bioterrorism attack or a truck accident spilling toxic materials. Yes, emergency management and disaster relief encompass more than just public health issues. At the same time, natural disasters have public health components. For example, how do hospitals and clinics operate in emergency circumstances? What environmental hazards are exposed by floods? How are pharmacies or individuals going to get vital medicines when the transportation system is comprised? “Conceptualizing and Defining Public Health Emergency PreparednessAM J Public Health. 2007 April; 97(Supplement_1): S9-S11.

(A Very Few) Organizations

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website has information on training, volunteer opportunities (before, during and after), planning, preparing and staying informed, etc. The American Red Cross’ website offers ways to help and get assistance. Though I can’t vouch for the validity of the sponsoring person/organization, this site provides a list of disaster relief agencies that highlights the wide variety of related global, national, regional, state and local (including religious and military) organizations. This list can help you look for similar organizations in your area.

(Some) Degree/Training Programs FEMA

A search of the Association for Schools of Public Health’s degree/certificate program database reveals 82 programs under the category “Preparedness Response and Recovery.”