Emergency response and public health in Hurricane Katrina: What does it mean to be a public health emergency responder?

Nancy Van Devanter, Perri Leviss, David Abramson, Joyce Moon Howard, Peggy A. Honoré

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Since 9/11, federal funds directed toward public health departments for training in disaster preparedness have dramatically increased, resulting in changing expectations of public health workers' roles in emergency response. This article explores the public health emergency responder role through data collected as part of an oral history conducted with the 3 health departments that responded to Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi and Louisiana. The data reveals a significant change in public health emergency response capacity as a result of federal funding. The role is still evolving, and many challenges remain, in particular, a clear articulation of the public health role in emergency response, the integration of the public health and emergency responder cultures, identification of the scope of training needs and strategies to maintain new public health emergency response skills, and closer collaboration with emergency response agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E16-E25
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2010



  • Hurricane Katrina
  • disaster preparedness training
  • natural disaster
  • oral history
  • public health emergency response competencies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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