CDC toolkit addresses challenges of large-scale disasters, pandemics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently produced the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response Toolkit to address the challenges that public health and emergency response officials face in mitigating large-scale disasters.

CASPER was specifically designed by the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, Division of Environmental Hazards and Health Effect Studies Branch to help epidemiologists and public health authorities collect health intelligence during large-scale, potentially mass casualty disasters, according to

Also known as a Rapid Needs Assessment, a Rapid Epidemiological Assessment and a Rapid Health Assessment, CASPER is intended to aid in determining the health status and basic needs of an affected community.

The guidance gathers information about health and basic need data by using vital statistic methods that will allow public health and emergency managers to prioritize their responses and determine how to distribute their resources, reports.

The CDC emphasized that without accurate or uniform guidelines, public health officials may be compelled to make their decisions based on impressions or opinions that do not adequately reflect the needs of the community. CASPER provides quantitative post-disaster procedures that can identify needs such as food, water and shelter for an entire community.

According to the CDC, once CASPER has been initiated, it can be ideally completed within 72 hours. Assessments can be conducted within the first hours, days or weeks after a disaster hits, reports.