Public Health Preparedness

Improving Medical Disaster Response Through Tools and Expertise

Ensuring an effective response to the medical consequences of a disaster, whether it is a natural disaster, a terrorist attack, or a pandemic event, presents health and medical officials with a host of challenges. At all levels, officials must analyze potential medical demands, assess medical capabilities, and identify and allocate critical resources. They must develop and exercise plans and ensure that personnel are well trained to act collaboratively, quickly, and effectively. For bioterrorism events and pandemics in particular, officials must fully understand the consequences and evolution of infectious disease transmission to make the best decisions about how to protect the public in the event of an outbreak or attack.

IEM’s multi-disciplinary team of healthcare professionals, medical researchers, and modelers has worked with several offices within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the

  • Office of Preparedness and Emergency Operations (OPEO)
  • Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

We have supported the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), state and local emergency management agencies, public health departments, hospitals, and regional medical systems. For all of these customers, we help improve healthcare emergency preparedness for natural disasters; pandemics; chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) events; and other health emergencies. We provide services ranging from unique planning strategies and focused training and exercises to simulation modeling and epidemiological analysis.


Epidemiological Modeling – IEM’s epidemiological models help health officials understand the complex dynamics of infectious disease spread so that critical discussions about potential control measures and underlying assumptions can begin.

Medical Consequence Modeling – Our medical consequence models illustrate how response assets and healthcare emergency preparedness capabilities will perform in the face of natural disasters, pandemics, and CBRN events to help health and medical officials understand the impacts planned responses will have on healthcare resources and the public. This information helps officials pinpoint when they can expect to be short of resources during an event and what types of materials they should procure to maximize healthcare emergency preparedness.

Healthcare Policy Analysis – We combine the results of epidemiological modeling and medical consequence modeling with cost estimates for pursuing different healthcare emergency preparedness options. This helps our customers scientifically and defensibly identify healthcare emergency preparedness strategies and policies that most cost-effectively reduce risk to the public. Our analyses also support difficult decisions about where to allocate scarce medical resources to support policy decisions.

Health & Medical Emergency Preparedness – IEM provides a full range of services to help health and medical personnel prepare for emergencies. Our services include healthcare emergency preparedness and capabilities assessments, comprehensive plan development—including mass casualty/mass fatality planning, Business Continuity Planning (BCP), and Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning—and rigorous local and regional training and exercise programs, including facility and community-based Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) and National Incident Management System (NIMS) training.

Healthcare Performance Management – IEM develops comprehensive frameworks that quantitatively measure healthcare emergency preparedness. This includes developing performance measures for target capabilities and statistical analysis of data collected against those measures to help health officials understand how well their preparedness improvement efforts are working.


Baccam, Prasith, et al. Mass Prophylaxis Dispensing Concerns: Traffic and Public Access to PODs. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science. 2011. 9(2): 139-151.

Hiles, Chris. Defining the Big Picture. ADVANCE for Nurses. June 30, 2010.

Hiles, Chris. Prepping for Any Disaster: Prevention, Preparation and Risk Management are Essential to Managing an Emergency. ADVANCE for Nurses. June 15, 2010.

Hiles, Chris. The Emergency Management Cycle: Why Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery Are Vital to the Medical Field. ADVANCE for Nurses. May 25, 2010.

Hiles, Chris. An Unorthodox Nursing Career: Emergency Management Planning Offers Nurses Lots of Opportunity. ADVANCE for Nurses. April 21, 2010.

Kim, Deborah H. "GIS Application and a Regionalized Approach for Mass Casualty Incident Planning." GIS in Hospital and Healthcare Emergency Management. Ed. Ric Skinner. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2010. 207–220. To order, see

Baccam, Prasith, and Boechler, Michael. Public Health Response to an Anthrax Attack: An Evaluation of Vaccination Policy Options. Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science. 2007. 5(1): 26–34.

Demonstrated Successes

IEM Bio-Modeling Cited in NAS Bioterrorism Report
IEM’s bio-modeling for HHS, conducted by Drs. Sid Baccam and Mike Boechler, is cited in the 2012 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report on pre-positioning antibiotics.Dr. Baccam participated in IOM’s workshops on the topic and was interviewed by IOM to gather his input for the study.
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Dispensing Medical Countermeasures for Public Health Emergencies
In 2008, Dr. Baccam participated in IOM workshops and served as a reviewer for IOM’s report on Dispensing Medical Countermeasures for Public Health Emergencies. In June 2011, Drs. Baccam and Boechler, along with other IEM scientists, published a paper in the journal Biosecurity and Bioterrorism entitled “Mass Prophylaxis Dispensing Concerns: Traffic and Public Access to PODs.”
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Analysis of Healthcare Infrastructure Vulnerabilities
For HHS, IEM analyzed infrastructure vulnerabilities of healthcare systems in three states. This analysis identified how failure of one or more critical infrastructure systems (power, water, transportation resources, etc.) may reduce the healthcare system’s ability to provide complex patient care, even if the healthcare system loses only part of its operational capability.

Pandemic Flu Planning
IEM has developed pandemic flu plans for jurisdictional Emergency Management Agencies and multiple FEMA Regions. These plans include matrices that enable quick, coordinated response actions across all levels of government and private industry.

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