Disasters such as tornadoes were discussed at CU's workshop on emergency preparedness

By Chris Casey | University Communications

AURORA, Colo. – Devastating tornadoes. Dramatic wildfires. Massive public gatherings.

Events such as these require complex coordination and swift response by public safety, emergency management and health care groups. About 60 experts and representatives of such agencies from across Colorado gathered at the Anschutz Medical Campus this week to discuss coordination efforts to improve our state’s health care emergency response and recovery efforts.

Scenes from emergency preparedness workshop:

The Center for Integrated Disaster Preparedness at the University of Colorado School of Medicine hosted the two-day workshop, “Navigating Complex Change: Creating Continuity in Health Care Emergency Response and Recovery.”

A coordinated response to emergencies is vital, but too often that response is splintered, said Debra Kreisberg, PhD, director for the Center for Integrated Disaster Preparedness. “The workshop is about how to take the next step and integrate in a more seamless approach to get a better result,” she said. “Because the better result you get, the more lives that are saved, the less cost and the happier everyone is.”

Charles Little, DO, University of Colorado Hospital and medical director of the center, said devastating tornadoes of recent years in the Colorado communities of Holly and Windsor, as well as the work at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, were effective responses by public safety agencies. “It’s getting better with time, but it’s time to be more efficient,” he said. “There’s just duplication of effort and a lack of integration.”

Conference attendees heard a report about the CHIP Assessment Survey, which involved two years of queries of health care and emergency management officials at local, county and state levels. Delivering the report results were Kreisberg, Ursula Lauper and Monyett Ellington.

CHIP is the Colorado Council for Healthcare Integrated Preparedness and supports and advises the mission of the Center for Integrated Disaster Preparedness. The assessment research had three goals:

  • Identify current response preparedness projects and corresponding funding streams.
  • Compare levels of Incident Command System integration and core capabilities across sectors.
  • Identify possible directions for collaboration as well as next steps.

Richard Zane, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, School of Medicine, welcomed the group to campus on Wednesday.

He said the Anschutz Medical Campus mission is to bring people together to advance the central causes of science and innovation. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing here,” Zane said. “If you look around the room there are people from all over the state and you’ve come together for a central purpose. If I had a hat I’d take it off and applaud Deb for all the work that she’s done in bringing you all together. It’s truly remarkable.”

Ron Pinheiro, regional emergency coordinator, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gave the keynote address on Wednesday. He said the Colorado effort, illustrated by the workshop, should be emulated in states across the nation.

“We’re all in this together. The public, our friends and our family demand that we get this right,” he said of multi-agency coordinated preparedness. “It is truly our duty … Recognizing that everybody in this room is at varying degrees of preparedness, the goal of the collaborative and interactive process is to advance everyone’s level of preparedness in a changing and dynamic world, and do so in a collaborative, effective and efficient manner.”

Use a lunch break to attend a free session on campus to learn more about preparing for emergencies – – Sessions are June 14 or June 22.

Contact: [email protected]