Hurricane Response Hub: What’s Next?
- By: National Network of Public Health Institutes
The Hurricane Response Hub (HRH) initiative has been a two and a half -year long endeavor that has supported the creation of five technical assistance centers (TACs) located in Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia. Although this project will conclude at the end of June 2021, each of the TACs have identified ways to continue the work that was brought to fruition through this project. Highlighted below are ways in which each TAC will continue their important hurricane and disaster preparedness and recovery work for years to come.
The Puerto Rico TAC, operated by the Puerto Rico Public Health Trust, will convert its TAC into an all-hazards response center. Their work will include the following: 1) training and capacity building for the public health and first responder workforce, 2) mental health and the prevention of suicide during and following disasters, 3) ECHO-type training and building communities of practice, 4) promotion and expansion of their online training academy, 5) disaster mortality surveillance, 6) rapid community public health assessment during and after disasters, and 7) drinking water security and sanitation for Puerto Rico. Their team, as well as their website will remain intact as a resource for the region. The intent is to sustain the ongoing work started through the HRH initiative and to secure additional partner and funding support that will help them better serve the communities of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.
In Florida, the TAC, led by the Florida Institute for Health Innovation, will be folded into a new Environmental Health Hazard Hub (EH Hub). This EH Hub is supported by a five-year Environmental Health Capacity (EHC) grant provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and will expand upon the TAC’s activities related to responder mental health, climate resilience, health equity, affordable housing, and emergency preparedness and response. FIHI will continue to maintain its TAC website and social media presence, which are focused on sharing resources on hurricane preparedness as well as maintain the EH Hub for years to come.
The Texas Health Institute TAC is implementing a four-faceted approach to extend its capabilities into the future. The first is the development of additional online responder courses and expanded digital preparedness content for the annual hurricane season. Secondly, improvements will be made to their TAC website that will allow for archival storage of hurricane preparedness and recovery documents as well as encourage active collaboration with outside organizations. Next, digital media assets depicting the Texas coast will be increased in an effort to illustrate the health and safety impacts of climate change and hurricane surge. Digital assets such as drone shots and videos are in short supply; videos that are now available are licensed for purchase through digital software companies making them difficult to access. A plan to create a next-generation all-hazards TAC that can respond to the needs of public health organizations is the final facet in this approach.
The Georgia TAC, located within Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, continues to maintain its TAC website to provide learners with links to enduring training materials and resources. The TAC has also developed several emergency management system enhancements that have utility beyond hurricane response. Epidemiology Disaster Reports Dashboard, once fully built out, will allow epidemiologists and other users to collect and assess data on the status of an event from multiple sources and use those findings to inform public health leaders and partners. Similarly, another enhancement developed statewide capabilities, tools, and maps that provide emergency preparedness and response leadership with essential elements of information about facilities and real-time situational awareness during a hurricane. These were useful during COVID-19 response when a COVID-19 Dashboard was created in WebEOC.
Upon completion of the HRH initiative, the Louisiana Public Health Institute plans to continue their work in several different focus areas: a disaster-related community healthcare worker initiative, a partnership with the state Department of Behavioral Health, and a project that will support assessment of sexual reproduction services during a disaster event. They will also continue to host ECHO sessions and training related to mental health first aid for responders and will convert their HRH webpage into a resource library for community member use.
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