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Emergency Preparedness Resource Inventory (EPRI)

1. Introduction

This report, and the accompanying Technical Manual and Appendix, presents a software tool intended for use by local or regional planners to develop an inventory of critical resources that would be useful in responding to a bioterrorist attack. The Emergency Preparedness Resource Inventory (EPRI) is a Web-based software tool for assembling such an inventory.

In 2002, Abt Associates conducted a review of guidance promulgated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to states and regions concerning preparedness to respond to bioterrorism events. The federal guidance focused on estimating the demand for resources needed in the event of specific bioterrorism events, and assuring that needed resources can be quickly assembled. That is, States and localities were advised to estimate threats and the resources that would be needed to respond to these threats. This focus on demand for resources continues to be the emphasis of federal initiatives. Much less mention was found in the planning and guidance documents related to assessing community or regional supply of resources that could be made available to cope with bioterrorism events.

An exception to this rule was the CDC's 2001 planning guide covering many aspects of bioterrorism preparedness and response. The planning guide suggested that effective planning includes determining the resource base (the supply) of resources in a community. The CDC advised that members of planning teams should:

  • Know what resources they bring to emergency response and recovery.
  • List available resources and compare against what would be needed to respond to an emergency.
  • Identify shortages (i.e. where potential demand exceeds supply).

In discussions with one regional planning taskforce in Pennsylvania, it became clear that planners had no such inventory or detailed knowledge of available local and regional resources, and that the lack of such an inventory was impairing planning effectiveness. This situation probably exists in many other parts of the country.

An inventory of critical resources could be useful in a number of ways:

Incident Response: A major emergency, whether natural or man-made, could require the rapid location and deployment of equipment, supplies and personnel. First responders need to know where the needed resources are located, how much is available, and whom to contact to get access to those resources. An inventory that lists relevant resources and their quantities and locations, as well as contact information, would meet this need.

Estimating Gaps: An inventory would tell planners "what is"—what exists in their jurisdiction. Planning also requires some measure of "what should be"; with the difference between these being an imbalance, either a surplus or a shortage. Determining "what should be" could rest on the guidance of an expert panel, or a set of standards developed at a federal level, or a model of a 'well supplied' community that others are striving to match. Such standards could also revolve around specific threat scenarios. The adequacy of community preparedness would broadly recognize the span of threats, the likelihood of their occurrence, distances from larger urban areas, etc. Standards could be defined for each resource in an inventory, and might best be done on a population basis, for example burn beds per capita or respirators per capita.

Investment Decisions: Having identified shortage where a community does not meet agreed-upon standards, an inventory could have dollars associated with each resource to guide investment decisions. If a State or locality has a fixed budget, and a list of needed resources (possibly prioritized based on local decisions or perceived threat likelihoods), trade-offs among investments become more obvious.1

The goals of this project were to:

  • Create a software tool for assembling a regional inventory of resources that would permit better bioterrorism readiness planning and better response in the event of an incident.
  • Pilot test the software tool in an eight-county region of Pennsylvania.

This report presents the features and contents of the inventory software (EPRI) and describes a pilot test conducted during the summer of 2003. This report discusses the contents of the inventory, how state or local authorities can customize the inventory structure to meet their needs, security and confidentiality protections, and an extensive test of the inventory tool.

EPRI is a software tool that can be customized to create an inventory appropriate for any region, state or locality. It is Web-based so that all selected organizations in an area can log in to enter information about their resources. It creates automated reports for use in preparedness and planning as well as incident response. EPRI also has extensive security protections. Select for detailed instructions for installing and using the tool.

1. This project did not develop standards against which to measure the resources available in the test area. Cost data were not included for specific resources.

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