DHS Grant Information Sheet

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) was awarded a federal grant to develop and conduct an assessment and training for hospitals in selected cities. The goal of this project is to enhance the preparedness of health care systems in these communities to respond and recover from incidents of terrorism and natural disasters.

ACEP developed an assessment tool and conducted an all hazards assessment of each community’s hospital emergency preparedness plans and capabilities. The assessment included both a written self-assessment by the facility and an on-site survey by a team of disaster medicine experts. Customized disaster preparedness training and drills were then developed for each community based on their individual needs identified from their survey results.

The objectives of the grant was to:

  • Assess the medical response preparedness of the health care system in the identified communities.
  • Provide strategies to correct deficiencies identified during the assessment of the community’s health care system to respond to a mass casualty incident.
  • Address identified deficiencies through customized training for each community.
  • Provide hospitals with a framework to develop a strategic plan to improve emergency preparedness through comprehensive recommendations and planning assistance
  • Assist each community in conducting drills to test the effectiveness of improvements made to their emergency response plan.
  • Conduct a Lessons Learned Conference for all of the target cities.


  • Project Phase I - Assessment


    ACEP developed a comprehensive health care system analysis tool to identify weaknesses in a community’s abilities to respond to WMD and natural disaster events. Before conducting the on-site assessment, ACEP sent a written survey to all hospitals in the targeted cities. The survey provided an overview of each system’s structure, capabilities and limitations. The survey responses were used to pinpoint vulnerable areas that need to be examined more closely during their three-day on-site assessment.

    ACEP selected and trained an assessment team comprised of physicians, nurses and hospital administration personnel that assessed weaknesses within the response plans of each hospital. They reviewed the emergency preparedness plans and abilities, identified remedies to vulnerabilities, and determined training needs. The on-site assessment examined several hundred critical factors that contribute to effective hospital emergency response. The assessment team spent three days on site inspecting hospital facilities, meeting with key personnel and studying current emergency procedures. A detailed assessment report which identifies strengths and deficiencies and provides specific recommendations to improve preparedness were provided to each hospital. The report addressed issues such as facility improvements, equipment needs, laboratory upgrades, and sharing of resources and will provide each hospital a framework to develop a strategic plan for change to improve emergency preparedness.

    Phase II – Training

    Approximately six months after the initial on-site assessment, a training team was sent to each community to monitor the process of specific recommendations contained in the assessment report, provide training based on the initial survey and assist the community in conducting a tabletop drill to test their preparedness for an actual event. The drill used the National Planning Scenarios developed by DHS. The selection of particular scenarios used for a community took into account any preparedness deficiencies found in the assessment to facilitate improvements to those weaknesses. An evaluation survey was also be completed by the training participants following the final on-site visit. The survey will evaluate the current level of preparedness and the extent to which they have implemented the recommendations from the assessment as well as the usefulness of the assessment process. This information was contained in a comprehensive report prepared for DHS.

    ACEP Staff:

    Rick Murray, EMT-P, ACEP EMS and Disaster Preparedness Director, Grant Project Director
    Patrick Elmes, ACEP EMS and Disaster Preparedness Manager
    Cynthia Singh, MS, Grants Director
    Christopher Kang, MD, FACEP, Project Medical Director

    For more information on the ACEP DHS grant, please contact Rick Murray in the ACEP EMS Department at 800-798-1822 ext. 3260 or by e-mail at rmurray@acep.org.

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