September is National Preparedness Month. And today marks the 22nd anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.

To those who lost loved ones because of the attacks and to those still experiencing trauma and stress from the horrible events of that day: You are in our thoughts, and I wish you continued healing, comfort and hope.

The events of 9/11 have led to crucial changes in how our country responds to national emergencies — such as the COVID-19 pandemic — natural disasters — such as hurricanes and wildfires — and acts of violence. Improvements have been made related to communications, information sharing, emergency preparedness and medical training, and protecting front-line responders. But there’s still more work to do.

The AHA is working in partnership with the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response on the Convening Leaders for Emergency and Response initiative. The CLEAR initiative is dedicated to fostering collaboration between health care and public health to strengthen our nation’s emergency management systems.

In 2022, as part of this initiative, the AHA convened a cross-sector collaborative that uniquely aligns health care, public health and emergency medical services. The collaborative has released the CLEAR Field Guide for Emergency Preparedness, which outlines four overarching objectives to better assess, respond and manage threats to public health:

  • Strengthen cross-sector partnerships.
  • Build workforce capacity and resilience.
  • Share information and manage misinformation.
  • Normalize a culture of preparedness.

In addition, the AHA is hosting the CLEAR Crisis Leadership Series for hospital and health system C-suite leaders. These virtual sessions focus on sharing insights and strategies on effectively navigating large-scale incidents, such as cyberattacks, natural disasters and acts of violence. A future publication will highlight key takeaways and recommendations from these sessions.

This week, many communities in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina are starting the work to recover from the effects of Hurricane Idalia. People living in communities on the island of Maui, Hawaii, are facing enormous challenges in the aftermath of devastating wildfires there in early August. We’re thinking of these people, including those working at hospitals and health systems and caring for ill and injured people, even when their own lives and families may be affected and disrupted.

Emergency management and response are more important than ever. The AHA is committed to supporting this work to ensure our country, communities and health care organizations are prepared to work together and respond consistently and effectively during national emergencies and public health crises.

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