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Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Program Overview

The Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) provides leadership to effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from a public health emergency,  caused by either a natural or manmade disaster.  The Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness is located in the Division of Emergency Medical Services. We work closely with Emergency Services, other County Departments, Health Care Partners and community agencies.

Our primary responsibilities include:

  • Develop and integrate all-hazards public health response plans
  • Educate the public and train the county response partners in:
    • Integrated Shelter Support
    • Isolation and Quarantine
    • Mass Fatality
    • Mass Vaccination and Mass Prophylaxis
    • Medical Surge
    • Strategic National Stockpile Plan
  • Conduct drills and exercises to test plans
  • Recruit, train and deploy Erie County Medical Reserve Corps (ECMRC)

Integrated Shelter Support

In the event general population shelters are established in Erie County, the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness works with the American Red Cross Western New York Chapter to coordinate public health services, basic medical care, and functional needs support services. 

Examples of services provided include:

  • Observation, assessment and maintenance of Individuals with minor health/medical conditions
  • Assistance with personal care or activities of daily living
  • Assistance obtaining , managing and administering medications (prescription and over-the-counter)
  • Assistance obtaining and utilizing durable medical equipment and medical supplies

Isolation and Quarantine

In a public health emergency caused by an infectious disease the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness will coordinate activities that will stop or limit the spread of disease.

  • Isolation is used to separate ill persons who have a communicable disease from those who are healthy.
  • Quarantine is used to separate and restrict the movement of well persons who may have been exposed to a communicable disease to see if they become ill.

Mass Fatality

  • In a public health emergency that exceeds the community’s ability to manage human fatalities, the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness will coordinate with the Erie County Medical Examiner’s Office and other community partners to effectively respond.

Mass Vaccination and Mass Prophylaxis

  • Certain public health emergencies may require administration of large numbers of vaccine or medication in a short period of time. 

Points of Dispensing (POD)

  • The Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness will coordinate the Erie County Department of Health’s response which may include Points of Dispensing (POD).  POD sites are typically large facilities (universities, colleges, high schools) located throughout the County. Depending on the nature of the medical emergency PODs may have to operate 24 hours a day for several days.  Erie County Department of Health has agreements with numerous locations throughout the County to operate PODs in the event of an emergency.

Medical Surge

  • Medical Surge is the capability to rapidly expand the capacity of the existing healthcare system (long-term care facilities, community health agencies, acute care facilities, alternate care facilities and public health departments) in order to provide assessment and subsequent medical care.

Strategic National Stockpile Plan

  • The federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has large quantities of medicine and medical supplies to protect the American public if there is a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. Once federal and local authorities agree that the SNS is needed, medicines will be delivered to any state in the U.S. within 12 hours. Each state has plans to receive and distribute SNS medicine and medical supplies to local communities as quickly as possible.
  • Erie County is prepared to receive process and distribute medication, supplies and equipment to Points of Distribution (POD) sites and hospitals throughout the County. 
  • This website contains critical emergency-related information including instructions and recommended protective actions developed in real-time by emergency service personnel. Concurrent with the posting to this website, that same information will be disseminated through various communications systems (e.g. email, cell phones, and media outlets) to those who sign up.
  • The information posted here will include severe weather warnings, significant highway closures, hazardous materials spills, and many other emergency conditions. Additionally you will find information regarding response actions being taken by local and state agencies and protective actions that you should take to protect you, your family and your property.


Jonathan Shaw
Regional Coordinator - Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP)
500 Commerce Drive
Amherst, NY 14228
Phone: (716) 858-1554
Fax: (716) 858-7121


06/01/2023 - 12:37 pm