This post first appeared as a
blog post for the health communications blog, HealthComU, on
September 11, 2014.
Each year, as September 11approaches, the nation relives the
unspeakable events and tragic loss of that day. But because of
National Day of Service and Remembrance,September 11
is no longer just about mourning. It's about community, giving
back, and hope.
has also changed how government guards the homeland at all levels
and from all hazards.
Firefighters and police are better equipped and trained to face
different kinds of dangers. Health departments and hospitals are
better prepared to handle mass casualties, whether from acts of
terrorism or pandemic disease. Most importantly, the terrorist
attacks changed the way institutions work together and share
information-national and criminal intelligence, fire and rescue,
business and government. States and regions work together as they
rarely did before, and the federal government has learned to listen
to their concerns.
The 2001 terrorist attacks underscored the importance of
investments made in public health preparedness. Since 9/11, the
U.S. public health system has received unprecedented national
investment in recognition of its importance to national security.
The events of that day also led to a cultural shift in the way
state and large city health departments work and interact with
other agencies and sectors. Health departments are now
increasingly accepted as equal partners by traditional first
responders, such as law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and
emergency medical services.
Although the United States is better prepared to prevent,
rapidly respond to, and recover from public health emergencies than
it was 13 years ago, more work needs to be done so
our communications activities are better coordinated with both
state and local partners for emergencies as well as
non-emergencies. Some issues that should be addressed within
the next decade include
increasing focus on vulnerable populations that need additional
assistance in emergencies, such as mental and behavioral health
needs; improving coordination among public health care, and
emergency medical services; and improving the evidence base for
preparedness activities. Public health threats increasingly
have substantial potential for political, economic, and social
influence. To ensure health security in the USA and worldwide-a
crucial component of a nation's overall national security-and
cumulatively our global health security, new commitments from the
national to the local level are needed.