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Emergencies come in all types and in all levels of intensity. The COVID-19 pandemic is a stark example of a global crisis that, while leaving physical structures whole, impacts the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. Natural disasters, on the other hand, can result in not only injury, illness, and death on the local level but also can cause damage to homes, offices, clinics, hospitals, and other facilities, along with business and patient medical records.

In recognition of National Preparedness Month in September, here are some informative resources on preparing for and responding to emergencies.

Preparing for Disasters and Emergencies: Information You Can Use
We offer up important resources — one from CMS, one from FEMA, and a third from the Americans with Disabilities Act National Network — that can help you keep up with requirements, develop a business continuity plan, and prepare for emergency responses for people with disabilities.

The Role of the PT and PTA in Disaster Management
This downloadable APTA resource reinforces the role of PTs and PTAs in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery, and includes do's and don'ts as well as a discussion of essential clinical skills.

APTA Centennial Lecture Series: Rehabilitation in Emergencies
The APTA Centennial Lecture Series held throughout 2021 offers two-day learning opportunities that connect viewers with expert clinicians and thought leaders. We kicked off the series with "Rehabilitation in Emergencies," a presentation from Pete Skelton, PT, MSc, the Rehabilitation in Emergencies focal point for the World Health Organization. Skelton's lecture addresses the steps needed to develop an "all hazard" rehabilitation preparedness plan and the clinical and interpersonal skills needed to work in an emergency.

HHS Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Gateway
The Healthcare Emergency Preparedness Information Gateway was created to meet the information and technical assistance needs of health care entities, health care providers, and others working in disaster medicine, health care system preparedness, and public health emergency preparedness. Our webpage about the gateway walks you through the highlights.

Disaster Management From a Global Perspective
The World Health Organization offers multiple resources focused on disaster management, including an online handbook focused on early rehabilitation in conflict and disasters, a hospital emergency response checklist, a review of minimum standards for rehab in emergency medical teams, and frameworks for safe hospitals and emergency and disaster risk management. Additionally, World Physiotherapy offers a webpage focused on the role of the PT and PTA in disaster management around the world. Resources include a report on the potential for physical therapy in disaster management, a link to organizations that accept donations of physical therapy equipment, and information on World Physiotherapy's advocacy for humanitarian support.

The role of the PT and PTA in Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic
This recorded presentation from early March 2021 is part of the series Healthcare Operations During the COVID-19 Pandemic, created by the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. Developed by ASPR and APTA, this presentation brings together experts from The Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center to take a closer look at how the training and skills of PTs and PTAs can be leveraged in disaster response. Presenters use real-world examples from the COVID-19 pandemic to explore the issue. (Note: The recording is free but does require sign-in).

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APTA's Centennial Lecture Series launches on March 26 with an exploration of how the profession can get ready for the inevitable.


Important but Underused: PTs, PTAs, and Disaster Response

Oct 1, 2019

PTs and PTAs have much to offer patients and health care teams before, during, and after disasters. Part of the challenge, however, is educating other

Open Access

Preparing for Disasters or Emergencies: Information You Can Use

Jul 31, 2019

These resources cover different aspects of disaster planning and management that can help you prepare for and get through an emergency.