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Health Emergency Response Operations

Health Emergency Response Operations (HERO) works with local communities, healthcare facilities, state and federal agencies, and other private partners to help prepare and respond to an emergency or disaster impacting the health of Alaskans. This includes natural or manmade disasters as well as infectious disease outbreaks. The unit develops plans, coordinates with partners, conducts training and exercises, and distributes grant funds to eligible healthcare facilities for disaster preparedness activities. The unit also manages the Department of Health and Social Services Emergency Operations Center.

Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

The DHSS EOC supports emergency medical operations at the local and state level, allowing on-scene emergency responders to focus their efforts on providing for the safety of the affected community. The EOC also provides support to divisions within DHSS as they attempt to maintain or resume normal operations following an incident. Specific activities undertaken by the EOC will be dictated by the nature and needs of the incident, but fall under four broad categories:

  • Coordination – matching the capabilities of department units and external organizations with the demands of the emergency
  • Operations – managing mission assignments to meet the demands of the emergency
  • Information Gathering – determining the nature and extent of emergency conditions and maintaining situational awareness and a common operating picture throughout
  • Public Information – working with the DHSS Public Information Officer to inform local, state, federal partners, news media, and the general population of the nature and scope of the incident, what is being done, what actions need to be taken, and any other pertinent information. Information will be disseminated through the Joint Information Center established by the lead response agency.

Opening and staffing the EOC is one of the primary missions of the Health Emergency Response Operations unit. Specific tasks can include management of patient movement operations, establishing and staffing an alternate care site, providing resources to support hospitals and alternate care sites, supporting mass care and other emergency support functions.

To support the preparedness and response capabilities of the unit, Health Emergency Response Operations maintains a 24/7 Health and Medical Duty Officer. This individual works with health care facilities, and local, state, and federal emergency management agencies to respond to public health and medical incidents and disasters.

Health Emergency Response Resources