Designing and conducting tabletop exercises to assess public health preparedness for manmade and naturally occurring biological threats

Dausey, David J.; Buehler, James W.; Lurie, Nicole
January 2007
BMC Public Health;2007, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p92
Academic Journal
Background: Since 2001, state and local health departments in the United States (US) have accelerated efforts to prepare for high-impact public health emergencies. One component of these activities has been the development and conduct of exercise programs to assess capabilities, train staff and build relationships. This paper summarizes lessons learned from tabletop exercises about public health emergency preparedness and about the process of developing, conducting, and evaluating them. Methods: We developed, conducted, and evaluated 31 tabletop exercises in partnership with state and local health departments throughout the US from 2003 to 2006. Participant self evaluations, after action reports, and tabletop exercise evaluation forms were used to identify aspects of the exercises themselves, as well as public health emergency responses that participants found more or less challenging, and to highlight lessons learned about tabletop exercise design. Results: Designing the exercises involved substantial collaboration with representatives from participating health departments to assure that the scenarios were credible, focused attention on local preparedness needs and priorities, and were logistically feasible to implement. During execution of the exercises, nearly all health departments struggled with a common set of challenges relating to disease surveillance, epidemiologic investigations, communications, command and control, and health care surge capacity. In contrast, performance strengths were more varied across participating sites, reflecting specific attributes of individual health departments or communities, experience with actual public health emergencies, or the emphasis of prior preparedness efforts. Conclusion: The design, conduct, and evaluation of the tabletop exercises described in this report benefited from collaborative planning that involved stakeholders from participating health departments and exercise developers and facilitators from outside the participating agencies. While these exercises identified both strengths and vulnerabilities in emergency preparedness, additional work is needed to develop reliable metrics to gauge exercise performance, inform follow-up action steps, and to develop reevaluation exercise designs that assess the impact of post-exercise interventions.


Related Articles

  • Report Assesses Tools for Measuring Smallpox Readiness.  // Journal of Environmental Health;Jun2004, Vol. 66 Issue 10, p41 

    A draft set of indicators that CDC has developed for measuring state and local readiness for a smallpox attack—part of a larger draft set of tools—provides a useful starting point for assessing the U.S. progress toward bioterrorism preparedness. Moreover, measurement of...

  • The Advance of H5N1. Huston, Patricia // Canadian Journal of Public Health;Nov/Dec2005, Vol. 96 Issue 6, p405 

    The article presents an overview of the November 2005 issue of the "Canadian Journal of Public Health." This issue of the journal, has reports on pandemic planning from the national, provincial and local perspectives. These identify both the huge advances the country has made in pandemic...

  • Members: Advocate now on preparedness.  // Nation's Health;Apr2007, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p2 

    The article reports on the call of the American Public Health Association to its members to advocate on behalf of public health preparedness issues during the National Public Health Week (NPHW) observance. APHA is offering an online way to urge legislators to support legislation that would...

  • From the Schools of Public Health. Koh, Howard K.; Shei, Amie C.; Bataringaya, Janette; Burstein, Jon; Biddinger, Paul D.; Crowther, M. Suzanne; Serino, Richard A.; Cohen, Bradley R.; Nick, Gilbert A.; Leary, Mary C.; Judge, Christine M.; Campbell, Paul H.; Brinsfield, Kathryn H.; Auerbach, John // Public Health Reports;Mar/Apr2006, Vol. 121 Issue 2, p211 

    Explains the role of community health centers in building community-based surge capacity through a public health and academic collaboration. Ability of health care facilities to treat increased numbers of sick and injured; Role of public health officials in identifying facilities that ideally...

  • Public Health Preparedness: Response Capacity Improving, but Much Remains to Be Accomplished: GAO-04-458T.  // GAO Reports;2/12/2004, p1 

    The anthrax incidents in the fall of 2001 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002-2003 have raised concerns about the nation's ability to respond to a major public health threat, whether naturally occurring or the result of bioterrorism. The anthrax incidents strained...

  • Improving preparedness a priority for public health. Walker, Deborah Klein // Nation's Health;Mar2007, Vol. 37 Issue 2, p3 

    The author addresses the need for an effective public health capability and response to emergencies in the U.S. Public health agencies are now acknowledged as major players in emergency preparedness. However, the author says the appropriate resources needed to develop a comprehensive strategy...

  • Whole of community physical activity interventions: easier said than done. W K Mummery // British Journal of Sports Medicine;Jan2009, Vol. 43 Issue 1, p39 

    OBJECTIVES: To reflect on whole community intervention approaches to promoting physical activity, using experiences from the 10,000 Steps Rockhampton project. DESIGN: Many studies are quasi-experimental with single site intervention and comparison communities. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Whole...

  • Welcome. Cresswell, Jackie // SportEX Health (14718154);Jan2011, Issue 27, p2 

    An introduction to the journal is presented in which the editor discusses various reports published within the issue including the importance of physical fitness recommended by the Department of Public Health in England, the responsibilities of National Health Service in Great Britain and...

  • Assessment of community healthcare providers ability and willingness to respond to emergencies resulting from bioterrorist attacks. Crane, Jeffery S.; McCluskey, James D.; Johnson, Giffe T.; Harbison, Raymond D. // Journal of Emergencies, Trauma & Shock;Jan2010, Vol. 3 Issue 1, p13 

    Introduction: Previous findings have demonstrated that preparedness and planning within the public health system are inadequately developed to respond to an act of biological or chemical terrorism. Materials and Methods:This investigation used Internet-based surveys to assess the level of...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics