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Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER)

Students prepare to conduct an environmental health building assessment following a simulated disaster during the EHTER Operations course.

EHTER helps environmental health professionals and other emergency response personnel address the environmental health impacts of emergencies and disasters.

See which EHTER course is right for you and register today.

EHTER Awareness Level (online, 8 hours). CDC’s 2012 version of the awareness-level course has been condensed into an 8-hour course in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The course addresses the role of environmental health responders in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from emergencies and disasters. It covers issues and challenges in the following areas:

  • Disaster management
  • Responder safety and health
  • Safe water
  • Food safety
  • Wastewater
  • Building assessments
  • Vectors and pests
  • Solid waste and debris
  • Shelters
  • Radiation

EHTER Awareness Level (online, 20 hours). This 2012 version of the EHTER Awareness Level course is still available from the National Environmental Health Association. This is a filming of the in-person course.

EHTER Operations Level (in person, 32 hours). This course trains participants to

  • Identify problems, hazards, and risks.
  • Plan for team response.
  • Select appropriate equipment and instrumentation.
  • Perform required tasks using environmental health response protocols.
  • Report and participate in follow-up activities as instructed.

Most of the Operations Level course involves hands-on operation practice and response to simulated events. This in-person course is available through a partnership with FEMA (at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama). FEMA covers all training costs (travel, lodging, and meals) for state, local, and tribal responders taking the course.

Testimonials and Impact

“Excellent course, I attended in August and two other staff from our Environmental Health Division have attended as well and agree it was a valuable and interesting course.”
John Alden, RS, Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program Manager, Yuma County Public Health Services District

“I feel very fortunate to have attended the EHTER course when I did…the CSX train derailment in Madison County on March 12, 2007, served as a prime example of why we need to be prepared for such emergencies. … The concepts covered during the EHTER course were very helpful during the emergency and our subsequent response activities…we hope to secure the same training for all county environmental health staff as well as other public health staff and emergency responders.”
Geoffrey Snyder, Environmental Health Director in Madison County, New York

Thousands of environmental health practitioners from the United States and around the world have completed EHTER. Training evaluations consistently show marked improvement in preparedness knowledge after taking the course. We continuously improve the training to address participant feedback.

Participants apply the concepts and information learned, improving response and recovery capacities during actual emergencies and disasters such as

  • Power outages.
  • A train derailment with release of hazardous materials.
  • Tornadoes.
  • Hurricanes.
  • Floods.
  • Wildfires.

Learn more about EHTER participants and responses in

Why EHTER Is Needed

Several assessments demonstrated the need for emergency preparedness and response education and training for environmental health professionals. But, before EHTER, there was no national, comprehensive, standardized education and training program in this area.

To address this need, CDC’s Environmental Health Services Branch collaborated with federal, state, and local public health and environmental health partners to develop a comprehensive training program.

Environmental health professionals perform many critical functions during emergency response and recovery. These functions include conducting shelter assessments, testing drinking water supplies, performing food safety inspections, and controlling disease-causing vectors. EHTER prepares environmental health professionals such as sanitarians and environmental health specialists by providing them with the knowledge, skills, and resources to address the environmental health concerns that result from emergencies and disasters.

Additional Information

Questions? Contact ehsb@cdc.gov

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