The data presented in this research brief were obtained from an assessment of LPHA bioterrorism and emergency preparedness conducted by NACCHO. In response to the September 11, 2001, attacks and subsequent anthrax incidents, NACCHO conducted this survey to better understand how these events impacted LPHAs and how prepared they were to respond. A 9-question survey was developed by NACCHO, and was faxed and e-mailed to 999 NACCHO members and state associations of local public health agencies. In a short turnaround time of one week, 530 responses were received, a response rate of 53%.
Once survey responses were received, NACCHO staff conducted the data analysis. Open-ended questions were coded for ease of analysis, and data analysis was conducted using the statistical software package Stata®.
Local health officials played a variety of roles in response to the September 11 terrorist events. Most of these roles revolved around communicating with various partners within their communities. A number of respondents indicated that much of the time was spent fielding questions from concerned community members and staff. Other roles included working with response partners to develop, update, and review plans and protocols to respond to emergencies. Developing fact sheets and providing information to the public and media were also mentioned.
Other roles mentioned by respondents included placing LPHA staff on alert, activating or supporting emergency operations centers (EOC) community systems, activating emergency response plans, and increasing disease surveillance. Some respondents indicated that they had to rely on the news media to be alerted and receive updates, not local disaster response agencies, state health departments, or federal agencies.