Emergency responders are trained and prepared to respond effectively and immediately when disasters strike, and a new resource published by the National Response Team (NRT) is focused on ensuring their safety and health before, during and after responding to an emergency.
The document, Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance: National Response Team Technical Assistance Document, is the product of an interagency workgroup convened by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in response to the continuing need to improve the health monitoring and surveillance of emergency responders.
While much has been learned from responses to previous events, significant gaps and deficiencies in health monitoring and surveillance remain. To help address these gaps, NIOSH convened a workgroup of federal and state agencies, as well as volunteer groups and labor unions to develop the guidelines and recommendations found in this document. This work was also coordinated with the National Response Team, which is an organization of 15 Federal departments and agencies responsible for coordinating emergency preparedness and response to oil and hazardous substance pollution incidents.
"The health and well being of these workers is critical not only for their ability to respond when needed, but to ensure their quality of life is not affected by their service," said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. "This new guide provides real guidance and tools that both individual responders, as well as response agencies, can use immediately in their planning and preparation as well as during an event."
In addition to the document, NIOSH has also developed a topic page that provides additional information and links to further support health monitoring and surveillance efforts. These unique resources are meant to address all aspects of protecting emergency responders and to be useful across a full range of emergency settings. The document and web page are separated up into sections on guidance for the various stages of deployment, and on tools and sample materials that could be used in a response.
The guidance in these new resources sets forth a useful and practical path forward for enhancing the safety and health of responders. Managers, medical staff, health and safety representatives, and workers themselves will all benefit from these resources as they prepare for and respond to emergency events. To view the full document, visit ERHMS.NRT.org, and the NIOSH topic page, visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/erhms/.
NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths. The NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Program Portfolio is part of a research portfolio that sets the goals and develops plans for worker safety and health research advancement and collaborations. For more information about NIOSH and our work in emergency response, visit us at www.cdc.gov/niosh.