Los Angeles Department of Public Health is National Model for Community Disaster Resilience

Groundbreaking Initiative Featured in June 3 Issue of

Los Angeles Department of Public Health is National Model for Community Disaster Resilience

In response to a directive from President Obama to embrace a community resilience approach to disaster preparedness, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LAC DPH) is leading the national “resilience” discussion, an emerging approach to public health emergency preparedness and response. Its groundbreaking Community Disaster Resilience (LACCDR) Project, which recently rolled out in 16 diverse communities throughout the county, now serves as a model for the U.S.

According to Dr. Alonzo Plough, Ph.D., M.P.H., Director of Emergency Preparedness and Response for the LAC DPH, community resilience is more effective than previous disaster preparedness models because “it encompasses individual preparedness as well as establishes a supportive social context in communities to withstand and recover from disasters.”

Dr. Plough has co-authored three articles for the June 3, 2013 issue of that detail research findings supporting the community resilience approach to emergency preparedness and outline key steps for making resilience a viable option in other cities.

The articles include: “ ,” by Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Anita Chandra, DrPH, Malcolm Williams, PhD, David Eisenman, MD, Kenneth B. Wells, MD, MPH, Grace Y. Law, MA, Stella Fogleman, RN, CNS, MSN/MPH, and Aizita Magaña, MPH; “ ” by Anita Chandra, DrPH, Malcolm Williams, PhD, Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH, Alix Stayton, BA, Kenneth Wells, MD, MPH, Mariana Horta, MPP, and Jennifer Tang, MPH; and : ” by Kenneth B. Wells, MD, MPH, Jennifer Tang, MPH, Elizabeth Lizaola, MPH, Felica Jones, Arleen Brown, MD, PhD, Alix Stayton, Malcolm Williams, PhD, Anita Chandra, DrPH, David Eisenman, MD, MSHS, Stella Fogleman, RN, MSN/MPH, CNS, and Alonzo Plough, PhD, MPH.

An accompanying commentary penned by Dr. Melinda Morton, MD, MPH, and Dr. Nichole Lurie, MD, MSPH and Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Federal Department of Health and Human Services responsible for coordinating governmental preparedness and response strategies for health related disasters, states: “Building truly resilient communities requires a fundamental expansion from traditional approaches (emphasizing physical capacity building and material disaster relief) to longer-term social capacity building. Strategies to enhance social capital may prove to be high-yield components of community resilience. Time and again, local organizations and networks have proven far more adaptable and responsive than outside agencies in responding to disasters.”

“The LACCDR Project is a collaborative, grass-roots effort to engage community-based organizations to provide leadership that will improve the ability of communities to prepare for, respond to and recover in the event of emergencies and natural disasters,” Dr. Plough explained, adding that the current implementation phase is part of a three-year community engagement pilot program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation launched this year in response to the President’s March 2011 directive.

During the implementation, LACCDR partners – which include the LAC DPH, UCLA Center for Health Services and Society, Emergency Network Los Angeles and RAND Corporation along with the 16 communities – are exploring activities, tools and resources intended to bring LA County community members together to collectively strengthen their preparedness. They also are considering how these activities, tools, and resources can make a difference in the behaviors, knowledge and attitudes about emergency preparedness within LA County.

The County has also launched a public education initiative employing print ads, a website, an educational video, billboards, bus sides, bus shelters, television and radio ads, direct mail, speaking engagements, participation in community events and distribution of an informational brochure that encourage Los Angeles County residents to "Know Your Neighbors" and prepare together for emergencies. All are available in English, Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Armenian.

For more information, visit bereadyla.org.

The Department of Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control, and community and family health. Public Health comprises more than 4,000 employees and has an annual budget exceeding $750 million. To learn more about Public Health and the work we do, please visit , visit our YouTube channel at , or follow us on Twitter: LAPublicHealth.