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After the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York, the U.S. Federal Government took a much greater interest in supporting American communities through preparedness planning and exercising. The new approach emphasized coordination and urged States to prepare for all disasters – both natural and manmade. In Idaho, PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS refers to the ability of Public Health Agencies, healthcare systems, communities, and individuals to PREPARE for, RESPOND to, and RECOVER from public health emergencies like natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, acts of bioterrorism, or any other event that affects the lives of every Idahoan.

The Preparedness Team at the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare works collaboratively with the seven Public Health Districts to ensure Idahoans are ready to respond and recover when faced with a public health disaster. Public Health Preparedness is charged with equipping Idahoans with enough information to not only survive in an emergency, but to prepare before disaster even strikes. This website will provide education and resources for preparing for a number of Idaho-specific disasters.


When a disaster occurs, one of the most stressed resources is personnel. If you are interested in becoming a public health emergency preparedness volunteer, please visit or Volunteer Idaho – Medical Reserve Corps on Facebook. The site provides an easy way for health and non-health professionals to register to help their communities during public health emergencies.


During a public health emergency, but after you and your loved ones are safe, the Idaho 2-1-1 CareLine can provide you with up-to-date information regarding medical assistance, food and clothing, emergency sheltering, and more. PLUS, operators with the 2-1-1 CareLine provide FREE community information everyday, all day, even during non-emergencies!


The US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Disaster Distress HelplineHealth Services Administration is here to HELP! "Disasters have the potential to cause emotional distress, stress, anxiety, and depression". It's important to know that these reactions are common and YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you or a loved one is feeling depressed, suffering from anxiety or struggling after a disaster, call 1-800-985-5990 for FREE HELP! Or simply text 'TalkWithUs' to 66746 (standard data/text messaging rates may apply for the texting service). 

Image link to 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine information Link takes you to the Disaster Distress Helpline website

The most likely Public Health Emergencies Idaho could experience are:


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Each of these potential threats could affect you and your community in a variety of forms. Natural disasters, such as earthquakes or flooding, can cause power outages, food shortages, and limit your access to healthcare and medications. In the event of a chemical or radiological disaster, you may need to shelter in place or even evacuate an area. You can learn more about the Idaho-specific public health threats and ways you can prepare for each emergency by clicking on any of the hazards above.

Influenza Pandemics in Idaho Pandemic Preparation for Individuals Pandemic Preparedness for Families Pandemic Preparedness for Schools Pandemic Preparedness for Businesses Pandemic Preparedness for Special Populations Pandemic Preparedness for Healthcare Organizations Extreme Heat Winter Weather Northern Fault Line North Central Fault Line Central Fault Line Southeast Fault Line Southwest Fault Line Northeast Fault Line Earthquake Preparedness for Individuals and Family Earthquake Preparedness for Businesses Earthquake Preparedness in Schools The Great Idaho Shakeout! Wildfire Preparedness Flood Zones in Canyon County Idaho State Floodplains Flood Safety in Idaho Idaho Floods! Awareness Guide Anthrax Preparation Botulism Preparation Plague Preparation Smallpox Preparation Tularemia Preparation Evacuation during Radiation Emergency Sheltering during a Radiation Emergency FAQ's about Radiation Emergencies

Flu preparedness for individuals Flu preparedness for families Flu preparedness for schools Flu preparedness for businesses Flu information for specific groups Flu preparedness for healthcare professionals PDF on Pandemic Flu in Idaho Tips to handle extreme heat prepared by Tips to prepared for winter weather by Link to The Great Idaho ShakeOut website Earthquake preparedness tips for individuals and families Earthquake preparation for schools Earthquake preparedness for businesses Earthquake fault lines in northern Idaho Earthquake fault lines in north Idaho Earthquake fault lines in Central Idaho Earthquake fault lines in southeast Idaho Earthquake fault lines in Southwest Idaho Earthquake fault lines in Northeast Idaho Link to Idaho Fire Wise Floodplains in Canyon County Floodplains in Idaho state Idaho Floods! Awareness Guide link Flood safety checklist Link to CDC Anthrax preparedness Link to CDC's Botulism Preparedness Link to CDC's Plague preparedness Link to CDC's Smallpox preparedness Link to CDC's Tularemia preparedness Link to CDC's Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers preparedness Link to CDC's Bioterrorism overview Link to facts about evacuation during a radiation emergency Link to facts about sheltering in place during a radiation emergency Link to radiation emergency frequently asked questions null null null null null null
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Get a Kit, Make a Plan, & Be Informed

During a public health emergency, access to food, water, daily medications, and other resources may be limited. Individuals, families, businesses, and communities can prepare for all public health emergencies by following a few simple steps. Also, keep in mind that after a disaster in your area family and friends will be concerned with your safety. Keep them informed and let them know you're safe by visiting the American Red Cross Safe and Well website, a site designed to help give your loved one's peace of mind!

Get a kit. You should have a three day supply of:

  • First aid supplies,
  • A flashlight with extra batteries,
  • Any prescription medications you or a family member takes daily, 
  • A battery powered radio.

*Note: Customize your kit to meet your family's needs, i.e. diapers, pet food and water, special needs, etc.

Make a Plan. You may not be with your family or loved ones during a public health emergency so: 

  • Decide how you will contact one another,

  • Decide how you will get back together if separated,

  • Decide on plans for evacuating, if needed,

  • Identify an out-of-town contact and make sure everyone can get in touch with that person. 

Be Informed. While creating an emergency preparedness kit and making a plan can lessen the impact of an emergency, it is important to learn about the types of emergencies that can occur in your area and to know the emergency plans at your work, your school, and around your community. Don't forget your emergency supply checklist provided by the Bureau of Homeland Security! You can also use an Emergency Go Bag flowchart to help you pack supplies in case of an emergency.  

More Information For:


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In an emergency, natural disaster, or public health incident, volunteers with the right training are invaluable. Volunteers are needed all across Idaho. Whether or not you have medical training, you can become an everyday hero by registering with the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) in your area. Volunteer training is free. Join the Medical Reserve Corps by registering at: Volunteer Idaho is even on Facebook

What is the Medical Reserve Corps?

Formed in 2002, the MRC is a nationwide program comprised of private citizens, medical and public health professionals who sign up to serve as community volunteers during natural disasters, emergencies, and public health incidents.

Why was the MRC created?

In an emergency, the immediate deployment of emergency medical personnel is critical. However, such events can quickly overwhelm hospitals and health systems with individuals urgently in need of care. In addition, it is often difficult in the midst of a disaster to locate qualified volunteers and coordinate large volunteer efforts. The MRC was created to engage volunteers to strengthen public health preparedness, emergency response, and community resilience.

Who can join the MRC?

 While doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are a core part of the MRC, the MRC does not limit membership to those in the medical community. Individuals without medical training can fill essential supporting roles. Simply put, any citizen with an interest in helping keep their community prepared for an emergency is qualified to be in the MRC.

What do I need to do if there is an emergency?

In the event of a disaster, you will receive an alert requesting volunteers. You will then have the chance to accept or decline the volunteer request. There is no obligation to participate in an activation.

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In the event of a public health emergency, necessary resources at the state and local level may become quickly depleted. In an attempt to counter this depletion, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) houses large quantities of emergency medical supplies (i.e. antibiotics, antidotes, antitoxins, etc.) in numerous strategic locations throughout the U.S. These locations are designed to provide unique, rapid responses (sometimes as quickly as 12 hours after request) to areas that demonstrated the need for the supplies and requested them from the CDC. Through the collaborative preparedness efforts between the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare and the seven Public Health Districts (PHDs), each community in Idaho is prepared to receive and distribute the medicines and supplies shipped from the SNS.


If the supplies from the SNS are ever needed in Idaho each PHD will supply its region with access to medication by using Points of Dispensing, or PODs. These PODs have the ability to be set up quickly and require many trained volunteers, but ultimately focus on getting Idahoans the medications or supplies they need as quickly as possible.


  • Medicines given at the PODs are free;

  • The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) and the Idaho PHDs will announce when the PODs will open and will provide details about where the sites will be located throughout the affected area;

  • Federal, state, and local authorities are working together to ensure that sufficient supplies of SNS medicines will arrive quickly in an emergency and be available for everyone who needs them, and;

  • During the emergency, stay tuned to TV, radio, newspaper, and IDHW’s website at for important instructions to protect you and your family.You will also be able to call 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine with any questions.



*Information regarding the SNS has been adapted from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website found at*


Idaho's Preparedness Team is comprised of a state level team and seven different local teams distributed across Idaho's seven Public Health Districts (PHDs). These teams take an all-hazards approach, meaning any and all hazards are planned for and exercised. Each Preparedness Team is dedicated to minimizing paranoia and panic by maximizing PREPAREDNESS. Your Preparedness Team is ready...are you READYidaho?

Idaho Department of Health & Welfare:

  • Barb Blakesley, MA - Public Health Preparedness Program Manager/ESF 8 Coordinator/IDHW Disaster Coordinator 
  • Cheryl Brower, MS - Healthcare Preparedness Program Manager 
  • Denise O'Farrell, MPH - Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator  
  • Chris Burgess - Planner 
  • Ricky Bowman, MPH - Program Systems Specialist - Automated 
  • Marta Slickers, MHS - Program Specialist
  • Kara Wilson - Grant/Contracts Coordinator
Your Idaho state Preparedness Team can be reached by calling (208) 639-5717!



First Annual Idaho Summer Preparedness Summit 2014

An informative 3.5 day meeting held in Boise on July 29th to August 1st, 2014, with the 7 Public Health Districts and other local, state, and federal partners for strategic planning, a Training and Exercise Workshop, program development and best practices sharing, ArcGIS Online training, WebEOC planning, disaster mental health planning, and sessions on EMAC, state request and declaration processes, sheltering, and vulnerable populations.

The 2014 Public Health Preparedness Summer Summit is starting off green! Below, you will find the presentations that will be at our summit. There are handouts available to print, if you so desire, or download to your favorite handheld device!
We will not be providing water bottles, please supply your own and help keep Idaho GREEN! 
Complete Summer Summit Agenda 2014
Summer Preparedness Summit Agenda (Days 3 and 4)
Presentations and Handouts
Medicare and Medicaid 1135 Waiver Presentation

Need help letting your loved ones know you're safe after a disaster?

Are you struggling or know of someone who is struggling after a disaster?

  • DISASTER DISTRESS HELPLINE - Call: 1-800-985-5990 or Text: 'TalkWithUs' to 66746 (Sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the US Department of Health and Human Services)

For a look into the United States Nationwide Preparedness, visit:

  • FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Association
  • CDC - The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • ASPR - Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness & Response
  • US DHS - U.S. Department of Homeland Security

For more information about Idaho's Preparedness efforts, visit:

  • BHS - Idaho Bureau of Homeland Security
  • EMS - Idaho Emergency Medical Services
  • 2-1-1 Idaho CareLine 

For information about Preparedness Training, visit:

  • TRAINidaho - Idaho's Learning Management System
  • NWCPHP - Northwest Center for Public Health Practice
  • ASTHO - Association of State & Territorial Health Officials
  • NACCHO - National Association of County & City Health Officials
  • - Federal Emergency Management Association
  • DRC-GROUP - Disaster Resistant Communities Group