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Collaboration needed for inauguration emergency planning and beyond

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Friday’s inauguration, related events and protests will bring millions of people to D.C., which will inevitably cause several disruptions around the city. Major national events always pose a security risk and the need to prepare for any possibility, much like with the 2015 Papal visit.

Healthcare Ready is part of several coalitions working to address these challenges and needs around the inauguration, including the National Council of Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISAC) and local healthcare coalitions.

{mosads}Emergency preparedness and disaster response need to be at the top of our minds, regardless of which political party is in the White House or has a Congressional majority. Those who work for federal, state, or local level public health and emergency management departments must seamlessly continue their work to improve the resiliency of communities.

We must ensure all teams are prepared and ready to respond in case an incident (large or small) strikes. A large scale event like the inauguration will create issues with communication – cell phones will be difficult to use and radio signals may be tough as you don’t want to share sensitive information. Washington, D.C. faces a unique set of challenges in the coordination of the event among the multiple agencies who rule the District, including D.C. police, Capitol Police, National Park Service and Secret Service. However, previous experience and lessons learned will undoubtedly help in planning for this event. Healthcare Ready has seen the need to plan across agencies for events like the inauguration.

One example of this coordination and collaboration is The Department of Homeland Security’s BioWatch Program, which will deploy detectors for the inauguration to help detect any biological threats, such as anthrax, early and provide rapid notification to help in response planning for all levels of government and emergency responders. The importance of preparing and monitoring for such events is vital, as the coordination of a response requires careful collaboration. From local law enforcement to federal agencies, public health officials and The Centers for Disease Control, all parties must have continuous and open lines of communication to ensure seamless protection and safety. While they might be out of sight to many attending the inaugural events, Americans should be assured that emergency personnel and responders are carefully monitoring to respond to any situation.

The private sector is always a valued partner for the public sector to help prepare for and manage these situations, especially during times of transition. We know from previous disasters even as recent as last year, such as the Baton Rouge flooding and Hurricane Matthew, that the private sector has the power and interest in helping communities prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. Through our work, Healthcare Ready connects public sector needs to private sector capacities.

Beyond the inauguration, more emergency events and weather-related disruptions are occurring across the country. Large scale events come in many forms and sizes – more than just hurricanes, blizzards and chemical attacks. We need to ensure communities are resilient and healthcare operations can continue, even during a crisis. When stakeholders work together based on strengths and common interest, local decision makers can determine the best measures to protect communities from disasters and ensure they recover quickly.

The key to a smooth and successful transfer of power is collaboration. While most would agree that the election season was a heated process and it may feel as though there is little to unite the political parties, emergency preparedness is an area where we can all come together, to ensure we are all protected.

Emily Lord, executive director of Healthcare Ready, an DC based non-profit that focuses on health-related readiness before, during and after large-scale events and disasters.

The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.


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