CDC Foundation Establishes Emergency Preparedness & Response Fund

The CDC Foundation has established an emergency preparedness and response fund to help the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) better prepare for and respond to crisis situations. With the goal of raising $2 million, this fund will provide CDC with the means to meet both immediate and planned needs associated with crisis situations when federally appropriated funds are not readily available.

Within eight hours of the September 11 attack, CDC workers were on the scene in New York with emergency medical supplies for expected mass casualties. These highly trained experts monitored New York hospitals looking for any signs of bioterrorism or the outbreak of disease as a result of the damage. The health of the rescue workers quickly became a priority, as CDC sought to ensure that the damage itself did not pose a threat to their health. Today, CDC is fully immersed in the battle to protect the public from bioterrorist threats such as anthrax.

CDC Foundation Chair Kent “Oz” Nelson believes that while the President and Congress are moving swiftly to provide additional support for CDC, crises such as September 11 will always lead to unforeseen needs that cannot be addressed rapidly under normal hiring and purchasing guidelines. “Our Foundation exists to help CDC do more, faster. This Fund was established to provide CDC workers with resources to deal with immediate needs during this and future crises,” says Nelson. “These men and women are protecting this country’s health, and we need to give them the tools to perform their jobs as effectively as possible - in some cases we don’t know what those tools are until they become an immediate need.”

As an example CDC workers at ground zero in New York City were relying on cell phones to communicate important information to one another, Atlanta headquarters and other public health entities. In most cases, they could not reach each other because of the unusually high call volume following the crisis. Communications could have been quickly improved through immediate access to satellite phones that bypass the land-based telecommunications infrastructure. However, CDC workers lacked the means to immediately purchase this critical technology that would have helped them perform their jobs more effectively.

The CDC Foundation Emergency Preparedness & Response Fund will provide for four basic areas of need including:

  • Emergency “on-the-ground” purchasing power.
  • Short-term staffing needs including laboratorians and retired Epidemic Intelligence Service officers - CDC’s “disease detectives.”
  • Consulting services for strategic emergency preparedness planning and crisis management.
  • Rapid procurement of equipment and technology.

“Whether it’s purchasing satellite phones or quickly hiring additional bioterrorism experts, we want to empower CDC to move immediately to protect the public’s health,” says C. Charles Stokes, CDC Foundation president and CEO.