Texas A&M University—Training and Education Collaborative System Preparedness & Emergency Response Learning Center (TECS-PERLC)
From Assessment to Action and on to Resilience: The Texas Tool Mitigation Planning Process
The release of the Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning in March of 2011 began an odyssey for many as they worked to “determine risks to the health of the jurisdiction”. Existing tools were deemed insufficient to meet the objectives of a tool that could: assess hazard risks within the state of Texas; include impacts to public health, healthcare, and mental health; measure the positive effect of mitigation measures and be both objective and informed by science. Stakeholders from local, regional, and state public health, emergency management, homeland security, healthcare systems, mental health services and academia came together to develop the Texas Tool for Public Health Risk Assessment. The goal was to develop a tool that would: efficiently and effectively function for small, medium and large jurisdictions, measure and rank 41 hazards, account for mitigation factors based on the 15 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Preparedness Capabilities, detail the impact of hazards, and could be used for public health preparedness strategic planning.
However, identification of the assessment method and tool was just the first step in a much more detailed mitigation planning process. The Dallas and Houston Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) were awarded Risk-Based Funding from the Division of State and Local Readiness and served as pilot sites for the Texas Tool. The MSAs completed the Texas Tool and the resulting information provided top hazards based on hazard and residual risk scores, capability gaps and resource gaps. Data from the tool was relevant and useful but next steps on how to report and use the information with external stakeholders was needed.
TECS-PERLC at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health had been a partner in the development process of the Texas Tool. As an academic practice partner, the TECS-PERLC continued to work with the two MSAs to create a strategy for using data from the tool at the broader MSA level. Several tools were developed to aid in the interpretation and application of Texas Tool Results, including the County/Regional Profile, the Intervention Strategies and Activities Document, and the Mitigation Planning and Reporting Template. These elements, combined with the Texas Tool and engagement of stakeholders, comprise The Texas Tool Mitigation Planning Process. This process is currently being applied at both the county and the regional levels in Texas.
IMPACT: A practice/academic partnership created a systematic, feedback loop approach to assessment, interpretation, application, planning and evaluation to provide a scalable platform for measuring the short, intermediate, and long-term goals of mitigation planning to improve capabilities, resources and ultimately resilience. This work demonstrates the development and engagement of effective partnerships and their ability to leverage various activities and funds from multiple resources to reach common goals.