The 2012 Public Health Preparedness Summit: Regroup, Refocus, Refresh

Local, state, and federal public health preparedness professionals from across the country will convene in Anaheim, California, early next year for the 7th Annual Public Health Preparedness Summit, which will take place on 21-24 February 2012. Growing budget challenges and a rapidly declining public health workforce influenced the choice of the conference theme: Regroup, Refocus, Refresh: Sustaining Preparedness in an Economic Crisis.

Public health officials are increasingly concerned that budget cuts will severely impact the ability to adequately train staff and volunteers. Next year’s Public Health Preparedness Summit will serve as a “dual purpose” venue offering training workshops and a place to obtain important tools, resources, and other information that can be utilized to strengthen and enhance preparedness and response planning efforts across the nation.

From Volunteer Management to Radiation Preparedness 

Training workshop topics include such major themes as volunteer management, medical countermeasure dispensing and distribution, behavioral health, public health law preparedness, radiation preparedness, and many more. With almost 200 interactive sessions, sharing sessions, and posters, participants will have many opportunities to find something of value to take back to their communities.

Each morning of the conference will begin with a plenary session. Wednesday’s plenary – A Resilient Community: Rebuilding and Recovering After the Joplin, Missouri, Tornado – will highlight one of the most devastating disasters experienced in the United States this year, and feature a panel of public health, healthcare, and community-based organization representatives discussing the efforts of Joplin residents to rebuild and recover from that tragic event.

The mid-conference plenary session – Fact or Fiction: The Science Behind Movie-Making and the FilmContagion – will take a look at how the film’s portrayal of a rapidly emerging infectious disease imitates real-life planning and preparedness for such an event. The panelists include: Contagion’s screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns, and his scientific advisor, W. Ian Lipkin; Rear Admiral Nicole Lurie, HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR); Alexander Garza, DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Assistant Secretary and Chief Medical Officer; Ali Khan, CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response; and Brian Kamoie (invited), White House Senior Director for Preparedness Policy.

The Summit’s closing session features Dr. Donald A. Henderson, a distinguished scholar at the Center for Biosecurity, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Dr. Henderson also serves as Dean Emeritus and Professor of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and was a founding director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civilian Biodefense Strategies. He also served for almost two years, starting in November 2001, as the Director of the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and, later, as a Principal Science Advisor in the Office of the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Henderson will take a retrospective look at the country’s efforts to become a better prepared and more secure nation since the terrorist attacks that took place on 11 September 2001.

The Preparedness Summit will also play host to seven Town Hall sessions that address important federal policy issues and other relevant topics. Conference attendees will hear the latest information related to, and have an opportunity to provide feedback on, the new CDC Public Health Emergency Preparedness and ASPR Hospital Preparedness grant alignment program, planning efforts for the mass distribution and dispensing of medical countermeasures, and federal biosurveillance initiatives.


For additional information on the 2012 Public Health Preparedness Summit, visit

Jack Herrmann

Jack Herrmann is the senior advisor and chief for public health preparedness with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). In this role, he oversees the organization’s public health preparedness portfolio, which is aimed at strengthening the preparedness and response capabilities of local health departments. He also serves as the organization’s chief public health preparedness liaison to local, state, and federal partner agencies, and chairs the annual Public Health Preparedness Summit. He has extensive experience in disaster management and response and has participated in numerous disaster relief operations with the American Red Cross. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from St. John Fisher College, and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Rochester (New York).



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