Disasters and Public Health

Planning and Response


  • Bruce Clements, MPH, Preparedness Director at the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)

From the San Diego wildfires to multi-drug-resistant strains of bacteria, communities are facing an ever-growing list of potential disasters. Some events, like pandemic flu or anthrax attacks, are public health emergencies first and foremost. Hurricane Katrina taught us, however, that lack of planning for the frail, elderly, and impoverished population can turn a natural disaster into a healthcare nightmare and lead to needless death and suffering. Emergency managers and public health professionals must integrate their prevention and response efforts to serve their communities most effectively.

The structure of each chapter offers an innovative approach to organizing key information:
1. Case Study or Historical Example
2. Disaster-specific Terms Defined
3. Disaster Description
4. Health Threat (Morbidity and Mortality)
5. Prevention
6. Immediate Actions
7. Recovery or Managing the Aftermath
8. Summary

Disasters and Public Health is a crucial tool in planning for and responding to the health impact of any crisis situation. Bruce Clements served over 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard as a Public Health Officer and a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare Defense Instructor, a Hazardous Materials Specialist with an Urban Search and Rescue Team, and as a Safety Officer with a Disaster Medical Assistance Team. He also served as the Public Health Preparedness Director of Missouri in 2006, when the state experienced a record number of disaster declarations. Throughout his years of experience, he frequently needed to track down a variety of references to quickly understand what was needed for an effective public health response in various situations. He has researched and compiled this information on the health impact of a wide range of disasters into one quick reference. Emergency managers can also no longer afford to be surprised by the next crisis that erupts. This book guides planners in both disciplines in preventing tragedies by most effectively preparing and responding when disaster strikes.
View full description


Emergency managers, public health professionals, emergency services professionals


Book information

  • Published: March 2009
  • ISBN: 978-1-85617-612-5


"Provides the nuts and bolts of preparedness which is only poorly presented in other texts."--Gregory Evans, Director of the Institute for Bio-Security at the Saint Louis University School of Public Health

Table of Contents

1. General Public Health Preparedness
2. Bioterrorism
3. Bombings and Explosions
4. Chemical Disasters
5. Earthquakes
6. Floods
7. Heatwaves
8. Hurricanes
9. Nuclear and Radiological Disasters
10. Pandemic Influenza
11. Thunderstorms and Tornadoes
12. Volcanoes
13. Wildfires
14. Winter Storms