Given recent events with COVID-19 and other threats, emergency management professionals know they need all the help they can get if their jurisdiction is going to prepare for, respond to, and recover from large-scale disasters.

Much of this help comes from the healthcare community, including area hospitals, clinics, public health agencies and emergency medical services (EMS). As such, there should be significant communication and collaboration between these organizations and local emergency management agencies, as well as cohesion of their Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs). Assistance from local, state and regional healthcare coalitions can help fill this critical gap.

A healthcare coalition (HCC), as defined in the HHS ASPR 2017-2022 Health Care Preparedness and Response Capabilities, is a group of individual healthcare and response organizations in a defined geographic location that play a critical role in developing healthcare system preparedness and response capabilities.

They reflect the unique needs and characteristics of local jurisdictions, and collaborate to ensure each member has what it needs to respond to emergencies and planned events, including medical equipment and supplies, real-time information, communication systems, and educated and trained health care personnel. And, they do so by:

  • Facilitating information sharing among participating healthcare organizations and jurisdictional authorities to promote common situational awareness
  • Facilitating resource support by expediting the mutual aid process or other resource sharing arrangements among coalition members, including local, state and federal authorities
  • Facilitating coordination of incident response actions for participating healthcare organizations so incident objectives, strategy, and tactics are consistent for healthcare response
  • Facilitating interaction between the coalition(s) and relevant jurisdictional authorities to establish effective support for healthcare system resiliency and medical surge

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there are now more than 31,000 healthcare coalition members working across the country to protect the health and lives of Americans when disaster strikes. And, not just during naturally occurring events such as hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, but also in the case of public health threats like COVID-19, Ebola and the measles (all