267882 Status of collaboration between local health departments and school systems for emergency preparedness and response: Local health department perspective

Monday, October 29, 2012

Melissa M. Kelley, MS , School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Kaitlin O'Keefe, MPH , UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Michael Prelip, MPH, DPA , School of Public Health, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Katie Arrington, MPH , UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Kimberley Shoaf, DrPH , Center for Public Health and Disasters, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
Background: Collaboration between existing systems is important for protecting and promoting public health. This analysis describes the current level of engagement between local health departments (LHDs) and schools/school districts for emergency preparedness and response activities, the amount of assistance provided by LHDs to school systems for these activities, and LHDs' rating of schools/school districts preparedness. Methods: Data are from a multi-stage, stratified random sample of 750 LHDs. Respondents were recruited via a mailed invitation, and responses were collected with an online questionnaire. The response rate was 21%. Results: On average, LHDs felt it was extremely important to engage schools/school districts in emergency preparedness and response (mean=4.76/5). When asked about specific activities to assist schools/school districts, emergency drills/exercises (mean=4.20/5) were rated highest in importance followed by emergency plans (mean=4.18/5), emergency response training (mean=4.07/5), and emergency equipment and supplies (mean=3.65/5). However, less than half of LHDs reported assisting schools/school districts with emergency response training (46.9%), emergency plans (45.4%), or emergency drills/exercises (43.5%), and only a quarter helped with emergency equipment and supplies (28.1%). About 20% of LHDs did not know how prepared local schools or school districts were, and of those reporting a score, the average preparedness level of local schools was rated as 3.5/5, local school districts as 3.6/5, and their own preparedness as 4.4/5. Conclusion: These results help us understand the current nature of collaborations between public health and school systems, which can be used to identify priority areas for developing successful and sustainable joint efforts in the future.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the current level of collaboration between public health and school systems for public health emergency preparedness and response. Discuss the implications of these findings for improving collaboration between public health and school systems.

Keywords: Disasters, School-Based Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted this original research. I also have a Master of Science in Public Health with a specialization in Emergency Public Health. Other relevant and current research experience involves work on the National Survey on Disaster Experiences and Preparedness; California Survey of Household Earthquake Preparedness and Mitigation; an NSF-funded assessment of the public health impacts of Hurricane Katrina; and the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Community Outreach Project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.