Planners: Preparedness and Response


  • Disaster response plans describe how various governmental and private sector entities are supposed to function individually and collaboratively during a disaster in order to protect the public and key infrastructure and continue to perform their missions.
  • Hospitals, public health agencies and other health entities also have response plans specific for their missions.
  • Planning details
    • Some plans are appropriate for all types of incidents: "all hazard" plans.
    • Some plans are hazard-specific e.g., chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, natural disasters
    • Hazard-specific response plans typically contain the critical elements of "all hazard" plans but also include modifications that address hazard-specific features
    • Effective plans are
      • Developed collaboratively by all potential participants
      • Integrated into plans that will be used by others participating in the response
      • Communicated to all those who will perform activities specified by the plan
      • Practiced in formal drills or exercises
      • Updated regularly to reflect lessons learned in formal exercises
  • The nature, scope, and location of a mass casualty disaster will significantly affect the implementation of any response plan.
  • The documents featured below provide an overview of some of the current key documents relevant to medical response planning. The list is not exhaustive.
  • If you are new to the planning process, please refer to pre-existing documents for your jurisdictions and workplace.
  • In 2013, the Institute of Medicine published a workshop summary reviewing Nationwide Response Issues After an Improvised Nuclear Device Attack: Medical and Public Health Considerations for Neighboring Jurisdictions.
  • In 2011, the Nuclear Detonation Scarce Resources Working Group published a series of manuscripts about medical and public health planning and response to a nuclear disaster with scarce resources. (DMPHP, March 2011)
  • HHS/ASPR guidance about planning and preparedness

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Key Federal Disaster Response Planning Documents