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Health Emergency Assistance Line and Triage Hub (HEALTH) Model

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.

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Appendix K. Sample Disaster Recovery Plan


To outline in a sequential fashion the procedures, duties, and responsibilities of the [your agency's name here] in the event of a [disaster type (media crisis, systems outage, etc.)] disaster.


[Disaster type] Disaster [Give a definition of the type of disaster covered by this plan.]


[Give examples of this type of disaster.]


[Identify the geographical scope of the disaster that will impact your agency: i.e., severe weather will impact the agency only if it affects the geographic area that includes your facilities, staff residences, communications, or power providers; however, a national media crisis such as the anthrax bioterrorism attacks of 2001, will probably affect your entire service area.]

Chain of Command

[Insert your agency's incident command structure, revise, if appropriate, for the disaster type.]

Sample chart of incident command structure's chain of command.  The top box is labeled 'Incident Commander' with a blank to fill in a name; the box immediately below contains the titles 'Information Officer,' 'Safety Officer,' and 'Liaison Officer,' also with blanks to fill in names.  Four boxes ranged equally below this are labeled 'Operations,' 'Planning,' 'Logistics,' and 'Finance/Admin,' with blanks to fill in names, and Groups, Units, and Branches in a tree structure beneath each box.

Personnel Notification Mechanism

  • All staff persons with notification roles are responsible for maintaining current contact information for those that they will notify.
  • Upon notification of a potential or occurring disaster, the on-duty [insert title of on-duty staff person who is responsible for identifying or receiving first communications regarding this disaster type] will notify [insert title of Incident Commander] or [list second and third in command if first is not immediately available].
  • [Incident Commander] will contact or delegate contacting of Incident Commanders [list titles of incident management personnel].
  • Incident Commanders will contact and instruct their disaster response teams [should be identified in the chain of command diagram above].

Stages of Readiness

Normal Readiness

Definition: No disaster is threatening. Actions consist of developing and maintaining resources, planning, training, and testing response capability.

  • A written disaster plan will be maintained.
  • The written disaster plan will be reviewed [annually, every 3 years, etc.].
  • The written disaster plan will be presented as part of the new employee orientation.
  • The written disaster plan will be reviewed [annually, biannually, etc.] with all staff members.
  • The written disaster plan will be kept on file at [insert physical location or title of holder of the plan].
  • A call-down list will be present with each copy of the disaster plan and with all Incident Commanders.
  • The call-down list must be revised whenever changes occur in personnel or contact information.
  • All staff members are responsible for keeping contact information current with management.
  • Management must provide itinerary and contact information during any absence.
  • All staff members working in excess of 40 hours per week due to disaster response will be paid according to [insert agency policy].
  • [Describe any on-call procedures.]

Increased Readiness

Definition: The threat or possibility of a disaster has been recognized. Local government begins preparations for coordinated emergency response. No public dissemination at this time.

Example: [Give appropriate example: i.e., Poison Center receives notification of a train derailment involving hazardous cargo.]

Response Steps:

  • Upon notification of potential disaster, the on-duty [title] will notify the [title of Incident Commander] or [give title for second and third in command].
  • The [title of Incident Commander] will notify Incident Commander(s), [give title(s)].
  • Incident Commander(s) will assume or delegate the following responsibilities:
  • Ensure that all exposed or injured personnel receive the necessary medical care.
  • If appropriate, prepare an information statement concerning the event after collecting necessary facts and in consultation with the appropriate responsible agencies.
  • The information statement will include a summary of the event, possible effects of exposure to the toxin/products, and recommendations.
  • The statement will be given to the Incident Commander as soon as possible in order to distribute to the staff.


Definition: The threat of a disaster has been recognized as imminent. The public will receive information concerning the emergency, and precautionary instructions are issued in an effort to minimize injury and the loss of life and property. Government agencies and support groups are prepared for duty or placed on standby.

Example: [Insert appropriate example: i.e., Denver Health Medical Information Center (DHMIC) is notified that a leakage of nitric acid has occurred.]

Response Steps:

  • Activate Personnel Notification Mechanism if not already completed.
  • All staff will be alerted through a call-down list.


Definition: The disaster has occurred and necessary emergency services are provided. These may include: medical, fire, police, temporary shelter, and temporary emergency repair to essential facilities and utilities.

Example: [Insert appropriate example: i.e., witnesses identify formation of nitric acid cloud. First reports of victims are received.]

Response Steps:

  1. The Incident Commander or designee will report to the [your agencies name] and assume or delegate the following duties:
    1. Notify next in command if not already notified.
    2. Call in additional staff as needed.
    3. Assure frequent follow-up with appropriate service (i.e., Office of Emergency Preparedness, Fire, Police, State Health).
    4. Update staff frequently on status of disaster.
    5. Oversee media area.
    6. Document the events of the disaster (see disaster documentation forms).
    7. Coordinate eating/rest periods for staff as needed.
  2. Following notification, all staff are to report to [specify location] or [specify if your agency has an alternate site if primary facility is compromised], if appropriate and assume duties as assigned by the Incident Commanders. All staff will remain on duty until released by the Incident Commander or designee. Any staff members learning of the disaster through media sources will call in to determine if they should report for duty. Scheduling patterns may be altered during the disaster at the discretion of the Incident Commander or designee.
  3. The Incident Commander or designee will be responsible for supplying media releases after collecting the necessary facts, and in consultation with appropriate agencies.
  4. [Insert titles] will be responsible for keeping the Incident Commander informed of the status of the disaster.
  5. [Insert titles] will assist with normal staffing and/or assume other duties as assigned by [insert titles].
  6. Clerical personnel and volunteers will report to the [insert agency/facility] to assume duties as assigned by [insert titles].


Definition: The disaster/emergency phase has ended. Recovery efforts include search and rescue, fire fighting, damage assessment, and body identification.

  • All personnel will be notified that the recovery phase has begun.
  • All personnel not required for duty will be released.
  • Normal staffing patterns will resume.


Management [insert titles] will review the disaster response and prepare a written evaluation.

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