Workforce Activation


Public health departments are preparing for an array of potential events requiring large scale response. The success of any widespread mobilization will depend on a jurisdiction's ability to rapidly and effectively redeploy human resources to staff emergency response teams and to maintain the continuity of essential health department functions.

Best practices for this type of workforce activation continue to evolve. Some lessons have been learned from the events of 9/11, the Toronto SARS outbreak and recent domestic natural disasters. Other lessons have been learned from the planning and modeling of public health jurisdictions. Today, it is easy to envision a time when there could be simultaneous surge in demand for several core Public Health functions requiring unprecedented workforce activation. While the timing of such an event is unknown, the need to prepare now is an absolute certainty. The ultimate objective of Public Health Workforce Activation planning is to develop the capacity to efficiently shift public health staff from day-to-day operations to emergency response roles.


Workforce Activation during an emergency event can have several dimensions.

SURGE RESPONSE represents the redeployment of human resources to staff emergency response teams. This toolkit includes information on how to define, assess the human resource needs of, and pre-assign staff to emergency response teams.

Some surge response activities will impact routine department functions. This impact is dependent upon the number and type of staff activated for the response.

BUSINESS CONTINUITY represents the complementary redeployment of human resources in order to maintain essential health department functions during a time of activation. This toolkit references, but does not specifically provide instruction on business continuity planning. Jurisdictions are encouraged to consider maintenance of business continuity in their Public Health Workforce Activation response plans. Key questions about business continuity are briefly addressed in Workforce Assessment .


Advanced Practice Centers (APCs) are local Public Health agencies that are developing best practice tools and resources to help advance preparation, response and recovery in the event of emergency situations. APCs are funded by the National Association of County & City Health Officials (NACCHO) , in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .

LEARN MORE about the Advance Practice work being done across the nation and what additional tools are available to help your local Public Health agency's preparedness efforts.

*Last updated 2010