The Role of Your Health Department in Disaster and Emergency Preparedness
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
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. Th
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
For more information about Project Public Health Ready, visit the NACCHO web site at
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