CDC Global Rapid Response Team

What We Do: Respond Rapidly to Global Emergencies

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands deployment team on their May 3, 2020 journey to Saipan.

Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands deployment team on their May 3, 2020 journey to Saipan. Left to right: Chad Martin, Patricia Bessler, Lateacha Hodge, Barbara Cooper, Elaine Steven-Emilien, Marlene Lewis (sitting), and Valerie Bampoe.

CDC’s Global Rapid Response Team (GRRT) is a unique resource that can rapidly respond to global public health concerns, both within the U.S. and abroad. Since its inception in 2015 and through 2020, GRRT staff have spent more than 61,800 person-days deployed in over 1,450 total mobilizations. GRRT responses have included cholera, COVID-19, dengue, Ebola, hepatitis A, measles, polio, yellow fever, Zika, famine, mass gatherings, and natural disasters.

The GRRT is a readily deployable team of public health experts coordinated from CDC Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with dedicated full-time (core) staff. We have more than 500 core and surge staff on GRRT, with more than 50 on call each month, ready to deploy on short notice. Some GRRT staff remain in the field during an emergency response for up to six months.

The GRRT:

  • Responds to emergencies when and where they occur to stop health threats before they reach our shores
  • Provides long-term staffing for international emergency responses in the field and at CDC headquarters
  • Deploys field-based logistics, communications, and management and operations experts to support emergency response
  • Helps partner countries achieve core global health security capabilities linked to the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) and International Health Regulationsexternal icon (IHR)

GRRT Deployments: October 2015 to December 2020

During this timeframe, GRRT had 1,450 deployments, 554 deployers, and 61,800 deployment days.
Global Rapid Response Team Deployments, October 2015-December 2020. Deployments are listed by country in the data table below the map.
GRRT Deployments by Location: October 2015 to December 2020
Angola 26
Australia 1
Bangladesh 6
Belize 2
Benin 2
Botswana 2
Brazil 3
Burkina Faso 9
Cameroon 4
Canada 1
Central African Republic 1
China 2
Colombia 10
Commonwelath of the Northern Mariana Islands 3
Cote d’Ivoire 4
Curacao 1
Djibouti 1
Dominican Republic 3
DRC 109
Ecuador 1
El Salvador 1
Equatorial Guinea 1
Ethiopia 26
Federated States of Micronesia 3
France 5
Gabon 1
Ghana 13
Guatemala 5
Guinea 3
Guyana 1
Haiti 38
Honduras 2
India 2
Indonesia 3
Jamaica 3
Japan 8
Jordan 8
Kazakhstan 1
Kenya 36
Laos 1
Liberia 6
Madagascar 3
Malawi 2
Mexico 1
Mongolia 3
Mozambique 17
Myanmar 1
Nigeria 22
Panama 3
Papua New Guinea 4
Peru 1
Republic of the Congo 1
Rwanda 30
Sao Tome and Principe 1
Senegal 5
Sierra Leone 11
South Sudan 24
St. Kitts and Nevis 1
Switzerland 64
Tajikistan 1
Tanzania 14
Thailand 2
Togo 1
UAE 1
Uganda 26
Ukraine 1
United Kingdom 1
United States 535
USA – EOC 435
Vietnam 8
Zambia 8
Zimbabwe 1

We identify and develop a trained, deployable, multi-disciplinary emergency workforce at CDC.
The GRRT has core staff as well as surge staff from across CDC. Dedicated full-time core staff are hired to work on the GRRT, while surge staff maintain their current positions and mobilize when needed for emergency responses. All GRRT staff become deployment ready (including medical clearances) and complete safety, security, technical, and contextual training.

We can rapidly deploy up to 50 public health experts internationally or to the CDC Emergency Operations Center.
At any given time, GRRT core and surge staff are available to deploy to support or lead a range of emergency response activities. The GRRT coordinates with other CDC experts who monitor and respond to infectious and non-infectious global health threats.

We provide stable, long-term staffing for emergencies when a sustained agency response is a priority.
The placement of staff with experience in emergency management improves the response impact, communication, and coordination. 

The GRRT can provide support and expertise in...
  • Capacity building
  • Coordination
  • Epidemiology
  • Field logistics
  • Health promotion
  • Lab support
  • Long-term staffing
  • Management
  • Partnership building
  • Rapid assessment
  • Risk communication
  • Surveillance

We serve as CDC’s link to key global health emergency partners.
The GRRT coordinates and partners with U.S. government, national, and international partners who respond to global health emergencies. This includes the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Bureau for Humanitarian Assistanceexternal iconexternal icon (BHA), which is responsible for leading and coordinating the U.S. government’s response to disasters overseas. The GRRT also works closely with the World Health Organization Global Outbreak Alert and Response Networkexternal iconexternal icon (GOARN).

GRRT Responders Bianca Alba and Stephanie Tavitian and other CDC staff helped the Maryland Department of Health translate during COVID-19 testing (May 2020).

GRRT Responders Bianca Alba and Stephanie Tavitian and other CDC staff helped the Maryland Department of Health translate during COVID-19 testing (May 2020).

We help partner countries meet obligations to international global health security agreements.
Our work helps countries meet global health security goals related to workforce development; emergency operations; linking public health with law and multisectoral rapid response; and medical countermeasures and personnel deployment.

Why It’s Important

The high-stakes Ebola epidemic of 2014 might have had devastating impacts on the United States if CDC and its partners had not been able to contain the outbreaks in West Africa. Public health agencies worldwide learned many lessons from the Ebola response, one of which is that we need a readily available group of public health responders who can deploy to control diseases from the moment we detect them. Since then, GRRT has risen to the challenge of responding to complex global public health emergencies, partnering with domestic and international partners, and collaborating with US and  foreign government officials to strengthen response and local capacities. GRRT increases the efficiency and effectiveness of CDC’s overall response capability by filling key positions in the field and at headquarters when emergencies occur. This improves global health security by increasing our ability to quickly respond to health threats and growing a stronger global emergency workforce.