The ASTHO preparedness program helps strengthen our nation's public health and healthcare system preparedness and response by identifying and prioritizing policy and programmatic needs of state and territorial public health agencies, and through collaboration with local, state, and federal partners.

Preparedness Policy Statement

Preparedness Policy Committee

The various work of ASTHO to advance public health preparedness, outlined below, is informed by the Public Health Preparedness Policy Committee, which analyzes public health and health system preparedness issues to produce recommendations for state-based public health policy. The committee’s deliberations and recommendations will be operationalized to assist members in developing preparedness activities and in integrating preparedness efforts with existing state‐based public health programs.

Mission Statement
2017 Priorities and Action Plans 

Preparedness Resources

ASTHO offers guidance, resources, and webinars on a variety of public health preparedness topics. Go to page »

Health Security Surveillance

ASTHO, in collaboration with the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Health Affairs (DHS/OHA), works to provide analysis and recommendations on key preparedness policies, facilitates collaboration between public health, homeland security, and emergency management communities and educates its members on key issues relevant to the homeland security enterprise.

Healthcare System Preparedness

Healthcare system preparedness involves the work done everyday to help build and sustain the nation's preparedness and response infrastructure to respond to mass casualty events and catastrophic emergencies. ASTHO, in collaboration with the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response's National Healthcare Preparedness Program (ASPR/NHPP), works with state and territorial health departments to enhance the capacities and capabilities of their healthcare systems.

The Pulse Nightclub Shooting in Orlando, Florida: A Peer Assessment of Preparedness Activities' Impact on the Public Health and Medical Response

This document summarizes the public health and medical preparedness activities that supported the response to the June 12, 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida. It also explores preparedness program gaps brought to light during the response. This report is based on information gathered from an Orlando site visit conducted January 11-12, 2017 by two peer assessors and several subsequent conference calls with key responders. 

Public Health Emergency Law

The Law can be a powerful tool to help accelerate and enhance responses to public health emergencies such as bioterrorism or pandemic influenza. ASTHO, in conjunction with CDC, has developed resources for public health practitioners, legal counsel, and government officials to assist in education, training, and planning activities on the effective use of relevant laws, regulations, and other legal doctrines in responding to public health emergencies to achieve greater protection of the public’s health and safety.

The ASTHO Social Distancing Law Project has produced two practical, field-tested tools to assess jurisdictional legal preparedness for pandemic influenza:

Radiation Emergencies

National Alliance for Radiation Readiness
Since 2011, ASTHO has served as the leader of the National Alliance for Radiation Readiness (NARR), a coalition of 17 public health, healthcare, and emergency management organizations that represent practitioners in the field of radiation readiness. NARR is dedicated to enhancing America’s radiological preparedness capability and capacity in the public health and health care systems by improving the nation's ability to prepare, respond, and recover from radiological emergencies at the local, state, and national levels.
Visit the NARR clearinghouse website for more information »

Medical Countermeasures Management and Dispensing

Flu on Call
Flu on Call® is a collaborative effort between ASTHO, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This project seeks to improve public access to antiviral medications and lessen surge on healthcare facilities during an influenza pandemic. In the event of a severe pandemic, a national network of phone lines, Flu on Call®, has been developed that can be used to provide information and triage callers. This network of call centers engages United Way 2-1-1 help lines, poison control centers, and nurse advice lines. Callers will be assessed by healthcare providers via phone and given information as well as directed to appropriate care sites, e.g. hospital, clinic, etc. Read more »

Volunteer and Emergency Management

ASTHO assists NACCHO build and enhance relationships between state and local Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) units with the goal of increasing the capacity of MRC units through statewide initiatives. ASTHO also collaborates with the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) in the development of public health and medical EMAC Mission Ready Packages (MRPs) for disaster recovery and response.

Other Initiatives

Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting
Each year, ASTHO hosts the Directors of Public Health Preparedness Meeting, which brings together representatives from the states, directly funded cities, and territories, as well as partner organizations and federal partners. 

National Health Security Preparedness Index™
On December 4, 2013, the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHSPI; the Index) was officially introduced to the public as a first-of-its-kind tool used to measure and advance the nation's readiness to protect people during a disaster. The Index offers a snapshot of national preparedness to demonstrate progress and identify areas where greater improvement is needed.

The NHSPI examines the health security preparedness of the nation by looking collectively at the health security preparedness of states. The Index results are updated annually.