Training and Technical Assistance

A woman is raising her hand at a training workshop amid a diverse group of attendees.

From the standpoint of public health, a disaster is defined on the basis of its consequences on health and health services. CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) provides disaster epidemiology training and technical assistance to requesting state, tribal, local, territorial (STLT) health departments, other federal and international agencies, academia, and partner organizations. Subject matter experts (SMEs) are available for consultation and technical assistance throughout the disaster cycle (preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation) to help minimize the effects of disasters on communities.

Disaster Epidemiology Technical Assistance

Health Studies provides consultation and technical assistance during all phases of a disaster cycle (preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation). Topic areas include disaster morbidity and mortality surveillance, rapid needs assessments (including the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response), disaster-specific preparedness and response planning, and advice on epidemiologic studies and research, among other disaster-related topic areas. NCEH SMEs also deploy to the field (by request) and lead the CDC Emergency Operations Center’s (EOCs) Epidemiology and Surveillance task force, coordinating the collection and analysis of health surveillance data, during a response.

If you would like remote or in-field consultation or technical assistance, please contact Amy Helene Schnall at 770-488-3422, GHU5@cdc.gov or CASPER@cdc.gov

In-Person Disaster Epidemiology Training

Health Studies provides disaster epidemiology training to STLT public health and emergency response staff by request. The purpose of the trainings is to 1) increase emergency response capacity, 2) improve disaster epidemiology skills, and 3) share lessons learned. Topic areas include the following:

  • Public health impacts of disasters and disaster epidemiology overview
  • Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)
  • Disaster morbidity and mortality surveillance
  • Emergency radiation preparedness
  • Other disaster-related topic areas (by request and subject matter expertise)

If you are a state or local health department and would like to be considered for training, please consult with your leadership and then contact Amy Helene Schnall (770-488-3422, GHU5@cdc.gov). You may also download a Disaster Epidemiology Training Request form pdf icon[PDF – 458 KB].

Disaster Epidemiology eLearning Modules

To aid in effective planning for disasters, NCEH has developed multiple eLearning modules that highlight the public health-related effects of disasters. We anticipate that once STLT health departments and other partners have received the web-based training, they will have a better understanding of how to apply epidemiologic concepts to disasters and emergencies.

The course is made up of 4 modules:

  1. Public Health Impacts of Disasters,
  2. Public Health Emergency Management,
  3. Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER), and
  4. Disaster Surveillance.

These modules are designed to help the public health and emergency workforce better prepare for and respond to disasters. You may take each in order, or separately as needed. Continuing Education (CE) is available for all modules.

MODULE 1: Public Health Impact of Disasters
picture of first page of MODULE 1: Public Health Impact of Disasters

The first module of the Disaster Epidemiology series reviews the public health impacts of disasters. In this 50-minute course, learners will:

  • Review basic concepts about disasters
  • Look at the direct and indirect impact of disasters on public health in different types of communities
  • Discuss how and why certain populations are disproportionately vulnerable to these impacts

Continuing Education (CE) is available for all modules.

MODULE 2: Public Health Emergency Management
picture of first page of MODULE 2: Public Health Emergency Management

The second module of the Disaster Epidemiology series reviews public health emergency management. In this 45-minute course, we provide learners with a summary of public health emergency management and planning for a disaster response and recovery. After completing this module, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the role and function of public health agencies in a disaster
  • List the implications of the relevant federal laws and authorities related to public health’s role in a disaster
  • Identify the major components of the national incident management system
  • Define various positions within an incident command system
  • List components of an emergency response plan for public health

Continuing Education (CE) is available for all modules.

MODULE 3: Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)
picture of first page of MODULE 3: Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)

The third module of the Disaster Epidemiology series is dedicated to the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER). In this 75-minute course, learners will review:

  • The CASPER methodology
  • When to conduct a CASPER
  • How to implement a CASPER, including basic data analysis and interpretation

Continuing Education (CE) is available for all modules.

MODULE 4: Disaster Surveillance
picture of first page of MODULE 4: Disaster Surveillance

The fourth module of the Disaster Epidemiology series covers disaster morbidity and mortality surveillance. In this 40-minute course, learners will review:

  • Why disaster surveillance is important
  • The purpose of morbidity and mortality surveillance during a response
  • The tools to assist in disaster surveillance

Continuing Education (CE) is available for all modules.

Guidance for Certification of Deaths in the Event of a Natural, Human-Induced, or Radiological/Chemical Disaster

picture of first page of MODULE 5: Guidance for Certification of Deaths in the Event of a Natural, Human-Induced, or Radiological/Chemical Disaster

Health Studies has also developed a 30-minute eLearning on death certification guidance for medical examiners (MEs), coroners and physicians. After completing this course, learners will be able to:

  • Describe the importance of accurate death certification for disaster-related mortality surveillance
  • Identify a disaster-related death
  • Explain how to complete the death certificate for a disaster-related death

Continuing Education (CE) is available.


Death Scene Investigation after Natural Disasters or Other Weather-Related Events Toolkit Training

Death Scene Investigation After Natural Disaster or Other Weather-Related Events Toolkit Training

This online training aims to familiarize learners with CDC’s Death Scene Investigation after Natural Disaster or Other Weather-Related Events Toolkit.

After completing the course, learners will be able to:

  • Define the term, “disaster”, as it relates to death scene investigation after natural disasters or other weather-related events
  • Define the importance of collecting accurate mortality data, as it relates to vital statistics records for natural disasters or other weather-related events
  • Describe three tools within the Death Scene Investigation after Natural Disaster or Other Weather-Related Events Toolkit
  • Identify three supplemental forms within the Death Scene Investigation after Natural Disaster or Other Weather-Related Events Toolkit

Continuing Education (CE) is available.

Page last reviewed: June 1, 2021