Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Public Health Emergency Preparedness FAQ

What is a public health emergency?

A "public health emergency" may be defined as an event, either natural or manmade, that creates a health risk to the public. Specifically, these can include disease outbreaks such as pandemic flu, foodborne and waterborne illnesses and events involving the following biological agents:

How do we prepare and respond?

OPHEP carries out its mission in four ways:

  1. Comprehensive emergency planning – OPHEP writes the plans that the Detroit Health Department staff follow to protect the public health of Detroit residents. These plans determine when and how Detroit Health Department staff responds, whether we provide support, information or medication during a declared emergency.
  2. Emergency training and exercises – OPHEP ensures the Detroit Health Department staff are trained, practiced and prepared to respond to public health emergencies. We follow guidelines provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and are evaluated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on our operational readiness.
  3. Coordination with local, state, and federal partners – OPHEP partners with local first responders such as Detroit Police, Fire and EMS, to ensure comprehensive planning and response should an emergency occur. We also work with other emergency support organizations such as the American Red Cross of Southeastern Michigan and the Salvation Army.
  4. Community Engagement – OPHEP works with community organizations to ensure our plans meet the specific needs of Detroit’s residents. We communicate with groups that represent and serve all walks of life, from faith-based organizations and ethnic groups, such as Arab and Latino communities, to special populations, including senior citizens, individuals with functional needs and developmental disabilities and the homeless.
How can you get involved?
  1. Prepare – Prepare an emergency kit for you and your family.
  2. Plan – Make an emergency plan for you and your family.
  3. Stay informed – Learn more about emergencies. Stay tuned to news and follow instructions given by officials should and emergency occur.

To learn more on how to get involved visit

If you wish to volunteer to respond to emergencies you can join the Michigan Volunteer Registry at