Why it Matters: Stories From the Field

Mand and women working at health booth

CDC is committed to strengthening the nation’s health security by protecting against public health threats, whether they begin at home or abroad, or if they are natural or man-made. We know that when we don’t respond quickly and to scale, outbreaks become epidemics, natural disasters become crucibles for illness, and the human toll of terrorist attacks can mount.

State and local health departments must stand ready to handle many different types of emergencies that threaten the health and resilience of families, communities, and the nation. Having people who know what to do, and having the resources in place to allow them to do their jobs, saves lives.

As one of the nation’s most critical public health investments,pdf icon we have an obligation to capture our work through stories from the field and share lessons that inform our strategy over time for CDC’s preparedness and response investments.

Ready, Set, Go: CDC’s Incident Manager Training Program Prepares the Next Generation of Response Leaders

zika trained staff

When the Zika Virus outbreak threatened the health of pregnant women and children across the country, having trained, skilled staff at CDC leading the response was critical. Thanks to CDC’s Incident Manager Training and Development program, Commander Brett Petersen was ready to help lead a successful response.

Public Health Preparedness Resource Helps Kentucky Fight Opioid Overdose Epidemic

kentucky opioid crisis

A PHEP-funded mobile pharmacy, created for use during emergencies, has turned out to be an important tool in fighting Kentucky’s devastating opioid overdose epidemic. Pharmacists travel with the mobile pharmacy to areas most affected by the epidemic and provide naloxone kits and training directly to communities in need.

Corporations Partner with Local Health Departments to Help Fight Zika

local health departments fight zika virus

CDC has linked corporate partners with local health departments to help fight Zika. During popular community events known as Zika Action Days, community members receive valuable Zika prevention information and products. Events have been held in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Florida.

LRN Lab Quickly Identifies Dangerous Pathogen and Saves Patient’s Life

Squirrel Syringe Feeding

In spring 2018, an Oregon resident arrived at an urgent care center with a fever, chest pain, body aches, and vomiting. Her physician suspected bacterial pneumonia and prescribed an antibiotic. What the clinician didn’t know was that the patient had been exposed to a bacterium called Francisella tularensis (F. tularensis), which can cause a life-threatening illness.

In Nebraska, Training is Key to a Strong Laboratory Response Network

microscope with lab glassware

Nebraska’s communities rely on clinical labs to quickly identify dangerous pathogens, particularly during emergencies like a biological terrorism incident or an infectious disease outbreak. Because these laboratories handle potentially dangerous pathogens, it is critical that laboratory staff are trained in the most effective identification methods.

Supporting State and Local Health Departments

Woman handing out flyers

CDC has placed preparedness staff across the nation to support state and local health departments. In 2017, 90 Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Cooperative Agreement-funded field staff were assigned to 58 different awardee locations, including 46 states, 4 localities, and 8 U.S. territories.

Stopping Polio in the Middle East

Scientist Working in a Lab

In 2013, a case of acute flaccid paralysis was detected in Syria by the Early Warning Alert and Response Network, a joint surveillance system managed by the World Health Organization and CDC. Soon after, more patient specimens were tested in the laboratory and found positive for polio. In all, thirty-six cases of polio were identified in Syria, followed by 2 more cases in Iraq…

Zika Stories: From the Field

Zika Information Table

CDC has linked corporate partners with local health departments to help fight Zika in areas most affected by the virus. Through this strategy, corporate partners like Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and Walgreens co-sponsored community events known as Zika Action Days with local health departments; corporate partners have helped get Zika prevention information and products along with Zika Prevention Kits for pregnant women to community members who attended events in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Florida.

Hurricane Stories: From the Field

SNS Hurricane Infographic

Federal Medical Station strike teams—teams of logistics experts deployed to assist with set up—arrived in Houston, TX, just hours after Hurricane Harvey made landfall. According to Steve Holland, a member of one of the strike teams, “Once we received orders to move the supplies to Houston, our Strategic National Stockpile liaison coordinated with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to plan a route for us…

Meeting The Needs of Vulnerable Populations

Vulnerable Populations

During the 2017 Hurricane Response, the EOC’s At-Risk Task Force collaborated with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to create American Sign Language videos with information on flood cleanup and mold safety.

Understanding Community Resilience and Recovery after Disasters

Recovery after disaster

The United States experienced severe hurricanes, wildfires, and other natural disasters in 2017. These events highlight the importance of community resilience, the sustained ability of communities to withstand and recover from adversity…

States Race Against Deadly Opioid Epidemic

States Race Against Deadly Opioid Epidemic

More than 52,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2015; among those, more than 33,000 involved a prescription or illicit opioid. Standing on the front lines of the U.S. opioid epidemic are state and local emergency response systems. As states like Virginia and Massachusetts declare public health emergencies, they draw on the infrastructure that CDC has helped build nationwide since 9/11 to empower first responders, improve surveillance, and develop critical laboratory tests

Behind the Clipboard: Laboratory Inspectors

States Race Against Deadly Opioid Epidemic

CDC’s laboratory inspectors keep tabs on the nation’s critical select agent and toxin laboratories. Laboratory inspections generally last about 3 days and require that inspectors travel to sites all over the country, usually going out about once a month. And the job is never dull…

Rapid Response Teams Help States Combat Zika

Rapid Response Teams Help States Combat Zika

When states reach out for help, a CDC Emergency Response Team (CERT) stands ready to answer the call. A CERT is a highly trained group of public health experts who can travel anywhere in the country to meet the unique needs of requesting states. It is a flexible team that can give as much – or as little – support as requested, whether it’s sending epidemiologists, laboratorians, and vector control experts into the field or providing answers from headquarters

Lost And Found In the Marshall Islands

Lost And Found In the Marshall Islands

In the Republic of the Marshall Islands, homes do not have street names or numbers. Instead, they’re identified by color or by another identifying symbol. Without addresses, how would Zika responders and contractors find the places where help was needed?

Ensuring States, Localities, And Territories Are Ready to Fight Zika

Ensuring States, Localities, And Territories Are Ready to Fight Zika

To make sure the latest science is available for state, local, and territorial health departments during a public health emergency, CDC activates the State Coordination Task Force (SCTF) within the Emergency Operations Center. The task force has been instrumental during the Zika response in helping communities prepare for and respond to the outbreak

Triple-Threat Lab Test Simplifies Disease Detection

Triple-Threat Lab Test Simplifies Disease Detection

Before the current Zika outbreak – in 2015 – CDC had already begun developing the Trioplex Real-time RT-PCR (rRT-PCR) Assay. The Trioplex allows labs to detect three viruses at once: chikungunya, dengue, and Zika. These viruses often occur in the same areas, are carried by the same mosquito, and cause similar symptoms in patients

Investing in People Stops Outbreaks Faster

Investing in People Stops Outbreaks Faster

When Dr. Aristide Abah stepped off the plane that brought him from Atlanta back to his home in Cameroon, there was no time to waste. An outbreak of H5N1 flu threatened the country, and it was up to Dr. Abah to lead the response…

Connecting Research to Improve Response

Connecting Research to Improve Response

After Superstorm Sandy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including CDC, funded 31 projects to evaluate resiliency and recovery in areas related to healthcare delivery, the public health system response, risk communication, worker safety, environmental and occupational hazards, and the physical and mental health impacts on the general population