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PHLP has released version three of the Public Health Emergency Law and Forensic Epidemiology training materials on CD-ROM. Please click on the banner above for more information.

Public Health Grand Rounds
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Emergency Preparedness

See also Disaster Preparedness

Multi-Sector Coordination

In the last decade, a series of emergencies – including the events of 2001, the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic, and the 2005 hurricanes – and the threat of pandemic influenza have focused immense attention on emergency preparedness. As a result, investments in emergency preparedness have expanded the capacity of state, local, and federal health and other agencies to address such challenges. In addition, law enforcement agencies, the corrections system, the judiciary, and many other sectors have re-examined their own policies and procedures, identified potential gaps, and undertaken steps to strengthen preparedness for future emergencies.

While these efforts to strengthen each sector’s all-hazards preparedness are essential, the recent disasters also have taught that no sector or jurisdiction is likely to face a major disaster or its aftermath alone. To enhance coordination of preparedness across sectors, during 2007-2008, CDC’s Public Health Law Program, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, convened the Workgroup on Public Health and Law Enforcement Emergency Preparedness that included experts representing four sectors: public health, law enforcement, the judiciary, and corrections.

Workgroup members identified opportunities for improving cross-sectoral and cross-jurisdictional collaboration and developed the two tools available at this website. The first, “A Framework for Improving Cross-Sector Coordination for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Action Steps for Public Health, Law Enforcement, Corrections, and the Judiciary,” is designed to be a starting point for the four Workgroup sectors, setting forth the major gaps and problems in cross-sectoral and cross-jurisdictional emergency preparedness planning as well as some key opportunities for addressing them. The second, a guide for developing a memorandum of understanding for coordinated cross-sector implementation of community response measures to contagious respiratory diseases such as influenza, is designed to assist representatives from the four sectors in clarifying the expectations each would have of the others during a scenario in which community responses to a severe respiratory disease outbreak would be warranted.

Model MOU for Joint Public Health/Law Enforcement Investigations
Model MOU for Joint Public Health/Law Enforcement Investigations
(Posted: 10/21/2008)

A Framework for improving Cross-Sector Coordination for Emergency Preparedness and Response: Action Steps for Public Health, Law Enforcement, the Judiciary, and Corrections
PDF icon Framework
(Posted: 08/07/2008)

Coordinated Implementation of Community Response Measures (Including Social Distancing) to Control the Spread of Pandemic Respiratory Disease:
A Guide for Developing an MOU for Public Health, Law Enforcement, Corrections, and the Judiciary
PDF icon MOU Guide     MOU Guide
(Posted: 08/07/2008)

CDC Links

Non-CDC Links


  • Maryland Public Health Emergency Preparedness Legal Handbook This Maryland Public Health Emergency Preparedness Handbook is intended as an aid to Maryland state, county, and municipal lawyers. It hopefully provides a quick overview of many pertinent Maryland and federal laws as they apply to possible governmental responses to public health emergencies.
    PDF icon (PDF file)
    (Posted: 09/28/2007)

  • Legal and Logistical Issues In a Pandemic: Declaration Of An Emergency, Governmental Roles, Quarantines, Police Powers, Hospital 'Triage' and Capacity Issues and Related Topics. Attorney David Massa, Chairman of the MidAmerica Public Health Law Emergency Response Committee and Partner in the St. Louis law firm of Gallop, Johnson & Newman, discusses numerous crucial legal, governmental and logistical issues that a pandemic would raise, including: (a) what laws govern emergencies, who declares emegencies and what is the significance of doing so? (b) how far-reaching can local and federal 'police powers' be during an officially declared emergency? (c) to what extent can there be cross-jurisdictional coordination in a region or city among federal, state, county and city agencies and, in this respect, do federal powers trump state and local powers through FEMA? (d) what issues are raised relating to the ability of hospitals to screen or 'triage' patients who are afflicted during a pandemic? (e) can a hospital turn away patients if it is functioning at capacity in respect to either the intensive care units or the general medical/surgical floors? (f) what issues arise with respect to possible 'quarantines' of people, either on a small area basis or a larger area basis, and who has the authority to impose such quarantines? and (g) what areas of law actually remain vague, unaddressed and/or in need of further clarification in the context of a possible pandemic crisis event?
    PDF icon (WMV file - audio only)
    (Posted: 10/05/2006)

  • "Standing Together: An Emergency Planning Guide for America's Communities" The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. 2005.
    PDF icon (PDF file)

  • "Description of the CDC Community Legal Preparedness Initiative", Montrece McNeill Ransom, Published in "Health Lawyers News," March 2004.
    PDF icon (PDF file)
    (Posted: 03/30/2004 3:00 PM)
  • "Legal Preparedness and the Private Practice Attorney."A PowerPoint presententation from the American Bar Association's Center for Continuing Legal Education teleconference series, entitled "Understanding the Role of Public Health in Your Practice." Presented by Steve D. Gravely, Troutman Sanders LLP, Richmond, Virginia, August 10, 2005.
    Powerpoint icon (PowerPoint file)
    (Posted: 08/11/2005 12:00 PM)
  • "Court Procedures under the Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act."   A presentation at "The Public's Health and the Law in the 21st Century, 3rd Annual Conference" by Michael G. Moriarity, JD, Civil Court Administrator, Ramsey District Court, Minnesota, June 2004, Atlanta, Georgia.
    Powerpoint icon (PowerPoint file)
    (Posted: 07/12/2004 2:00 PM)

  •  "Chapter 10: Legal Authorities for Interventions During Public Health Emergencies." in Law in Public Health Practice, James J. Misrahi, Gene W. Matthews, and Richard E. Hoffman,  Ed. Richard A. Goodman, Mark A. Rothstein, Richard E. Hoffman, Wilfredo Lopez, and Gene W. Matthews. New York : Oxford University Press. 2003. 195-210. Used with permission.
    PDF icon (PDF file)
    (Posted: 09/24/2004 10:00 AM)

  • American Bar Association Resolution on public health law.  Adopted by the ABA House of Delegates on August 8, 2004 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Atlanta.  Urges ABA members and lawyers throughout the United States to improve their knowledge of public health law in order to better serve their clients and the public, who will be affected by new public health threats such as bioterrorism and infectious disease outbreaks...
    Word icon (Word file).
    (Posted: 08/12/2004 11:00 AM)

  • "Legal Readiness for a Public Health Emergency: Why Your Client Needs to be Ready for Bioterrorism, Pandemic Flu, and Natural Disasters." The material provided consists of a few selected excerpts of Public health emergency resource learning materials presented at the workshop held in Seattle, Washington on May 20, 2005. Sample charts and forms provided by the Washington State Office of Attorney General and the Tocoma Pierce County Health Department.
    Isolation & Quarantine FormsWord icon (DOH ISO & QUAR chart);  Word icon (Federal Exec. Order Quarantinable Diseases);  Word icon (Notice of Hearing for Involuntary Detention Q&I);  Word icon (Group Emergency Detention Order).
    (Posted: 07/28/2005 9:00 AM)
  • "What is Public Health Legal Preparedness?" Anthony D. Moulton, et al.,   Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 31, 672-683 (2003).
    PDF icon (PDF file)
  • The Century Foundation's Homeland Security Project. A study aimed at informing policy makers and the public about challenges that are related to preventing and responding to domestic terrorism.
    PDF icon (PDF file).
    (Posted: 03/01/2004 3:00 PM)

  • Public Health Law Bench Book for Indiana Courts (June 2005), Amy R. Schofield & Linda L. Chezem. Written under a cooperative agreement with CDC, this is the first of a series of public health law benchbooks to be written by the states. The bench book is intended to protect the health and safety of communities by improving legal preparedness for both public health emergencies and more routine public health cases.
    PDF icon (PDF file)

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