​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​In the aftermath of large-scale disasters like hurricanes, testing for pathogens of public health significance is critical to ensure interventions are implemented quickly and effectively. APHL utilizes its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and an Incident Command System (ICS) approach to support member laboratories respond to these events by:

  • Providing guidance, tools and technical expertise to help public health laboratories in their response activities

  • Improving communication and coordination with stakeholders, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other partners to improve the timeliness of key response activities

  • Conducting site assessments to determine infrastructure needs and recommend activities for response and recovery operations

  • Increasing workforce capacity by hiring and training new and existing personnel

  • Expediting procurement supplies, equipment and services needed to restore and maintain operations of essential public health actvities

APHL's Role in the 2017 Hurricane Response

In preparation for hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria in 2017, APHL activated its ICS to assist member laboratories with their response. The association facilitated communications between CDC and member laboratories, shared laboratory needs with policy makers and the general public, and participated in CDC's EOC State/Local and Partner conference calls.

Following the hurricanes, APHL sent a team to Puerto Rico to perform site assessments at four Puerto Rico Department of Health (PRDOH) laboratories and collaborated with CDC to help PRDOH develop plans to restore testing services. In late 2018, CDC awarded APHL with crisis response funding to expedite the recovery of public health laboratories and other essential public health services within three jurisdictions—Houston (TX), Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands—impacted by the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. To learn more about how APHL supported recovery efforts following the 2017 hurricanes, please see the publications linked under the resources sidebar on the right. 

The 2017 hurricane season demonstrated that in the wake of a natural disaster, public health laboratories face many constraints that can affect how public health responds. Below are resources to assist with preparing for and responding to disasters of the future.


For additional information or if you have questions, please contact emergency.preparedness@aphl.org