Emergency Preparedness & Response Fact Sheet
The Emergency Preparedness & Response (EPR) Division coordinates emergency preparedness and response activities of the Minnesota Department of Health. It provides guidance to local public health agencies, tribal governments and health care organizations as they develop plans and protocols for responding to public health threats. EPR maintains a 24/7 on-call system to take calls from federal agencies, local government, and other state agencies about emergency events. That number is 651-201-5735.
The Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) was established in the spring of 2002. In 2015, the Office became part of a new division, Health Partnerships and got a new name, the section of Emergency Preparedness & Response. In 2023, Emergency Preparedness & Response became its own division.
- Minnesota’s Health Alert Network (HAN) disseminates urgent public health information to doctors, nurses, and others who need it. The distribution system is a "tree" that relies on local and tribal health departments to forward it to hospitals, clinic and other partners in each jurisdiction.
- High frequency radio, 800 Megahertz radios, amateur radio networks, and satellite phones are available to maintain communications with federal, state, and local responders.
Education, exercises and planning
- EPR provides education and training materials used to build the capacity of state and local public health professionals. Other resource materials include the Minnesota Preparedness Education and Training Plan, the MDH Emergency Preparedness & Response newsletter, Web-based and multimedia training materials, and conferences.
- MN.TRAIN tracks training of MDH staff and other partners.
- A Comprehensive Exercise Planning group develops and integrates agency exercises and supports required and locally initiated exercises. After-action reports and improvement plans implement the lessons learned from exercises and events.
- EPR coordinates the public health All-Hazards Response & Recovery Plan which is part of the Minnesota Emergency Operations Plan and provides guidance to other health responders in their planning efforts.
Healthcare system preparedness
- EPR coordinates emergency, surge capacity, behavioral health, and volunteer health planning among Minnesota’s 140 hospitals, working with the eight regions of the state.
- Funding is provided to the Regional Hospital Resource Centers who then coordinate hospital, clinic, skilled nursing facilities, EMS, emergency management and behavioral health emergency preparedness planning.
- The Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps Program supports local recruitment and use of volunteer health professionals for emergency response.
Local public health preparedness
- Eight regional staff serve as the technical content experts to support regional and local planning for emergency preparedness and response. The Public Health Preparedness Consultants (PHPC) are located across the state and interact with each jurisdiction’s local public health department to connect the appropriate regional and state resources and share best practices. These staff also support coordination of public health, healthcare system, tribal health and other responder planning activities.
- Federal funds are granted to Local Health Departments for the planning, preparedness and response activities.
Resource management and tracking
- EPR manages critical response resources, primarily pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, patient beds, and medical staff to prepare for and respond to events. The federal resources come from the Strategic National Stockpile that need to be securely managed and distributed within hours of an event. A state stockpile is a resource for smaller events or in support of the federal resources.
- EPR trains and assesses the capacity of LHD plans and staff to be ready to receive materials and get them to the public quickly.
- EPR coordinates the development and exercising of procedures and protocols for mass dispensing clinics and alternative types of dispensing, including the use of postal carriers to distribute medications to their routes.
- Automated resource tracking tools are being developed or modified to manage ongoing supplies, such as staffed hospital beds, inventory ordering and tracking systems, and communication systems.
- EPR is the applicant for federal funding for public health and healthcare grants, including financial and activity reporting of all activities supported by the federal funds.
- EPR manages and tracks activities and funding of approximately $12 million in preparedness funds that are used by local public health, tribal governments, and healthcare systems for emergency preparedness and response efforts.
- EPR prepares and supports the Department Operations Center, and the use of the Incident Command System which is used by MDH to coordinate the comprehensive response to events. This agency wide responsibility includes assuring the facilities, equipment, information technology, training materials, and systems are all functioning and ready to use within two hours of a request for services.
- In coordination with the Legal Unit, EPR reviews federal and state legislation, rules, and actions of other state agencies to recommend changes or new laws to support effective health response activities, including isolation and quarantine, support for volunteers, and mass dispensing liability changes.