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Supplement A: Command and Control

Public Health Guidance for Community-Level Preparedness and Response to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) Version 2/3


Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world. The content in this Web site was developed for the 2003 SARS epidemic. But, some guidelines are still being used. Any new SARS updates will be posted on this Web site.


  • Determine and establish operational authority for a response to a SARS outbreak.
  • Establish an incident management structure for the response to a SARS outbreak, supported by adequate information systems.
  • Determine and establish legal authority for a response to a SARS outbreak.

Key concepts

  • A clear organizational structure with well-defined roles and responsibilities and operational authority is necessary for an effective response to SARS.
  • Strong leadership is essential to coordinate a SARS response, allow efficient allocation of resources, and dissemination of consistent information.
  • An incident command structure supported by the adequate information systems allows for rapid and efficient implementation of a SARS response.
  • A suitable legislative framework is necessary to impose a variety of emergency public health and containment measures, at both the individual and community levels.

Priority activities

  • Conduct local preparedness planning for a re-emergence of SARS-CoV, with participation by persons representing a range of disciplines and expertise. Draft and formally adopt a SARS response plan, or add SARS preparedness and response to an existing preparedness plan.
  • Confirm the controlling authorities for actions such as declaring a public health emergency, activating the SARS response plan, and curtailing modes of transportation.
  • Develop/reinforce relationships with health authorities of adjoining jurisdictions and with federal agencies to ensure effective communication and collaboration.
  • Learn about the legal authorities and statutes for enforcing individual and community containment measures at the local, state, and federal levels.
  • Develop/adapt a predetermined incident command system to coordinate and manage SARS response activities.
  • Ensure the availability of information system(s) that can document, support, and coordinate the activities generated within an incident command system (e.g., integrate personnel and facilities, expedite real-time communication and flow of information, aid in logistics planning, resource allocation, and operational coordination).

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