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The Joint Commission is here to help you with your emergency preparedness efforts. Whether you’re updating infection control policies or planning an active shooter drill, you’ll find a wealth of resources below and through our affiliate Joint Commission Resources® (JCR®). Together we’ll help you get ready to respond to any crisis.

The Final Rule (81 FR 63860, Sept. 16, 2016) assists providers and suppliers to adequately prepare to meet the needs of patients, clients, residents, and participants during disasters and emergency situations, striving to provide consistent requirements across provider and supplier-types, with some variations. Healthcare organizations that receive Medicare or Medicaid must follow Emergency Preparedness regulations in order to participate (aka Conditions of Participation, or CoP).

The requirements set forth in the SOM Appendix Z focus on three key essentials necessary for maintaining access to healthcare during disasters or emergencies: safeguarding human resources, maintaining business continuity, and protecting physical resources. The SOM also provides interpretive guidelines and survey procedures to support the adoption of a standard all- hazards emergency preparedness program for all certified providers and suppliers.

Emergency preparedness rule

When the President declares a major disaster or an emergency under the Stafford Act or an emergency under the National Emergencies Act, and the HHS Secretary declares a public health emergency, the Secretary is authorized to take certain actions in addition to his regular authorities under section 1135 of the Social Security Act. Examples of these 1135 waivers or modifications include:

  • Conditions of participation or other certification requirements
  • Program participation and similar requirements
  • Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA) sanctions for redirection of an individual to receive a medical screening examination in an alternative location pursuant to a state emergency preparedness plan

CMS government 1135 waivers

Public Health Emergency 1135 waivers

Preparing our hospitals and other healthcare facilities for disasters is a national security priority. Disasters occur nearly every day in the United States, and the frequency is increasing. This includes such diverse events as storms, droughts, wildfires, floods, earthquakes, chemical and industrial accidents, burns, mass shootings and bombings, and epidemics. All sickened or injured people require a well-prepared public health and healthcare system.

Healthcare preparedness on saving lives

Plan ahead for disasters on

Hospital preparedness program

Training provides the foundation for understanding Emergency Preparedness and activation of Emergency Operation Plans and role delineation for Incident command structures.

National Incident Management System

Center for Domestic Preparedness training programs

National Fire Academy

CDC works 24/7 to protect America from health, safety and security threats, both foreign and in the U.S. Whether diseases start at home or abroad, are chronic or acute, curable or preventable, human error or deliberate attack, CDC fights disease and supports communities and citizens to do the same.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

When CDC gets the call to assist in a public health emergency, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is ready to respond. The CDC Emergency Operations Center – a place where highly trained experts monitor information, prepare for known (and unknown) public health events, and gather in the event of an emergency to exchange information and make decisions quickly.

CDC Emergency Operations Center

The mission of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is to save lives and protect Americans from 21st century health security threats.

ASPR leads the nation’s medical and public health preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters and public health emergencies. ASPR collaborates with hospitals, healthcare coalitions, biotech firms, community members, state, local, tribal, and territorial governments, and other partners across the country to improve readiness and response capabilities.

Public health emergency preparedness

The NFPA® Standards Council established the Disaster Management Committee in January 1991. The committee was given the responsibility for developing documents relating to preparedness for, response to, and recovery from disasters resulting from natural, human, or technological events.

NFPA 1600 sets the standards on Disaster/Emergency Management and Business Continuity Programs

When directed, The Marine led CBIRF forward-deploys and/or responds with minimal warning to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive (CBRNE) threat or event in order to assist local, state, or federal agencies.

U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command

Terrorist organizations throughout the world have used a variety of chemical, biological, and radiological weapons (collectively known as HAZMAT/weapons of mass destruction [WMD]) to further their agendas. The possibility of such incidents requires first responders to prepare for such incidents, which can affect individuals or inflict mass casualties.

Incidents involving HAZMAT/WMD are complicated because victims may become contaminated with the hazardous material. The purpose of decontamination is to make an individual and/or their equipment safe by physically removing toxic substances quickly and easily.

Chemical Hazards in Emergency Management

The first step in developing an emergency response plan is to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential emergency scenarios and then analyze what could happen if a hazard occurs. There are numerous hazards to consider. The approach for training and testing is based off your organization’s identified hazards (HVAs), with many possible scenarios that could unfold depending on timing, magnitude and location of the hazard. ( An all hazards approach would include a risk assessment (when applicable) for the following conditions:

Natural Hazards

  • Meteorological - Flooding, Dam/Levee Failure, Severe Thunderstorm (Wind, Rain, Lightning, Hail), Tornado, Windstorm, Hurricanes and Tropical Storms, Winter Storm (Snow/Ice)
  • Geological - Earthquake, Tsunami, Landslide, Subsidence/Sinkhole, Volcano
  • Biological - Pandemic Disease, Foodborne Illnesses

Human-Caused Hazards

  • Accidents - Workplace Accidents, Entrapment/Rescue (Machinery, Water, Confined Space, High Angle), Transportation Accidents (Motor Vehicle, Rail, Water, Air, Pipeline), Structural Failure/Collapse, Mechanical Breakdown
  • Intentional Acts - Labor Strike, Demonstrations, Civil Disturbance (Riot), Bomb Threat, Lost/Separated Person, Child Abduction, Kidnapping/Extortion, Hostage Incident, Workplace Violence, Robbery, Sniper Incident, Terrorism (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives), Arson, Cyber/Information Technology (Malware Attack, Hacking, Fraud, Denial of Service, etc.)

Technological Hazards

  • Information Technology - Loss of Connectivity, Hardware Failure, Lost/Corrupted Data, Application Failure
  • Utility Outage - Communications, Electrical Power, Water, Gas, Steam, Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning, Pollution Control System, Sewage System
  • Fire/Explosion - Fire (Structure, Wildland), Explosion (Chemical, Gas, or Process failure)
  • Hazardous Materials - Hazardous Material spill/release, Radiological Accident, Hazmat Incident off-site, Transportation Accidents, Nuclear Power Plant Incident, Natural Gas Leak Supply
  • Chain Interruption - Supplier Failure, Transportation Interruption