Houston Health Department

What is PHP


Public Health refers to the activities of society that seek to create the highest level of health for the greatest number of people.  A physician treats one person at a time.  Public Health creates interventions that treat whole communities.   
Public Health Preparedness takes this concept one step further, assessing and helping to improve the community’s ability to prepare for and respond to a public health emergency.  Recent events, such as Hurricane Katrina and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have shown just how important it is for a community to be prepared for an emergency, whether natural or man-made.  Public health preparedness officials work with government agencies and community partners to ensure that the community is doing everything that can be done to mitigate — or reduce — the risk of harm from an emergency, to prepare for an effective response when an emergency occurs, and to recover as quickly as possible.
The 15 National Disaster Planning Scenarios, developed by various federal agencies in partnership with the Department of Homeland Security, are used as a basis for public health preparedness planning.  These scenarios are the foundation of preparedness planning because they represent threats or hazards of national significance with major consequences.  The scenarios are:

1. Nuclear Detonation – 10-Kiloton Improvised Nuclear Device

2. Biological Attack – Aerosol Anthrax

3. Biological Disease Outbreak – Pandemic Influenza

4. Biological Attack – Plague  

5. Chemical Attack – Blister Agent

6. Chemical Attack – Toxic Industrial Chemicals

7. Chemical Attack – Nerve Agent

8. Chemical Attack – Chlorine Tank Explosion  

9. Natural Disaster – Major Earthquake

10. Natural Disaster – Major Hurricane

11. Radiological Attack – Radiological Dispersal Devices

12. Explosives Attack – Bombing Using Improvised Explosive Devices

13. Biological Attack – Food Contamination

14. Biological Attack – Foreign Animal Disease (Foot and Mouth Disease)

15. Cyber Attack

For more information on these scenarios, visit https://media.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/nationalsecurity/earlywarning/NationalPlanningScenariosApril2005.pdf
Public Health Preparedness utilizes the phases of emergency management when preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a public health emergency.  We are always searching for ways to reduce the occurrence of such emergencies, and when we cannot prevent them from happening, to reduce their impact.
Mitigation, or prevention, includes actions that reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from a hazardous event and decrease the need for response.
Preparedness includes plans and preparations made to save lives and property and to facilitate response operations.
Response includes actions taken to provide emergency assistance, save lives, minimize property damage, and speed recovery immediately following an emergency.
Recovery includes actions taken to return to normal or improved operating conditions following an emergency.