269379 Status of collaboration between local health departments and school systems for emergency preparedness and response: School district perspective

Monday, October 29, 2012

Kaitlin O'Keefe, MPH , UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Melissa M. Kelley, MS , School of Public Health, Community Health Sciences, 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: Public health efforts function optimally when existing systems work together to protect and promote the health and safety of populations. This project was designed to describe existing collaborations between local health departments (LHDs) and school systems within communities, focusing on school districts' reflections of these efforts. Methods: Questionnaires regarding collaborative efforts in emergency preparedness and response were distributed electronically to a stratified random sample of 750 LHDs, school districts and schools across the country. Data from school district questionnaires on the perceived importance and components of collaboration with and assistance received by LHDs are presented. Opinions on importance of collaboration and preparedness levels were asked on a scale ranging from 1 (Not at all) to 5 (Extremely). Results: School districts rated engagement with LHDs in emergency preparedness and response as extremely important (mean=4.5/SD=0.76). LHD assistance was rated as highly important in emergency/disaster plans (mean=4.37, SD=0.83), emergency equipment/supplies (mean=4.35, SD=0.81), emergency response training (mean=4.34/SD=0.81) and emergency drills/exercises. However, only 46.0% reported actual assistance given in plans, 31% in equipment/supplies, 48.3% in response/ training, and 39.3% in drills/exercises. School districts gave an average preparedness rating of 4.2 (SD=0.67) for LHDs, 4.01 (SD=0.73) for school districts and 3.89 (SD=0.76) for schools. Conclusions: The importance of collaboration and assistance are clearly recognized by school districts, although current levels of assistance provided were reportedly low in all areas. These results convey that while the importance of collaboration is evidently acknowledged, the scope and efficiency of current efforts among community organizations can be improved.

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 school districts’ reflections of collaborative efforts in public health emergency preparedness and response between local public health and school systems. Define target areas of improvement for collaborations between various community organizations in emergency preparedness and response.

Keywords: Disasters, School-Based Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an MPH from UCLA and am a doctoral student in the Department of Epidemiology at the UCLA School of Public Health. I currently work as a graduate student researcher at the UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters conducting research on emergency preparedness and response.
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.