Preparing Our Community

Preparing Our Community:  Putting Public Health Preparedness and Response Theory into Action

This project was implemented to underscore several educational objectives for public health graduate students enrolled in an applied epidemiology /public health practice course in Winter 2014. These objectives included an understanding of public health practice in the local health department setting, an awareness of the important partnerships between public health agencies, community organizations, and the University of Michigan, and an appreciation for the important role that public health agencies have in community engagement, education, public health emergency preparedness and response.

The TLTC Quick Wins funding supported the student-led development, implementation and participation in a community-based functional public health exercise. Similar exercises, such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Zombie Apocalypse” are utilized often by public health agencies to enhance all hazard preparedness among lay and professional audiences. This format is being increasingly used at other graduate programs and public health agencies to engage stakeholders using targeted public health messages.

Students worked with public health practitioners from the local Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) and the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Office of Public Health Preparedness (OPHP), as well as with other volunteer U-M students, staff and faculty. They incorporated skills and knowledge obtained during their coursework to develop a public health disaster scenario and exercise in a community in Washtenaw County.

This action-based 4-to-8 hour functional public health exercise 1) served to enhance the participant’s knowledge, skills and attitudes about vital public health community, family and personal preparedness as measured by pre- and post-event evaluations; and 2), provided a useful public health response exercise for the involved local and state public health agencies, as measured by a debriefing After Action Report, and 3) engaged community members by providing an opportunity for graduate students to provide public health education on personal, family and community preparedness.

This community-based preparedness exercise “Zombie Apocalypse Bite Back” took place on April 5, 2014.

Zombie Apocalypse Bite Back

Project Team:

Eden Wells, School of Public Health