NEHA April 2024 Journal of Environmental Health

ter Recovery Framework (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2016, 2019). The National Response Framework out- lines disaster response guidance for STLT organizations and federal agencies. Within this document are 15 Emergency Sup- port Functions (ESFs), which categorize capabilities for a response. Through EMU, NCEH provides primary support to ESF 8 (Public Health and Medical Services). EMU also provides secondary support for ESF 3 (Public Works and Engineering), ESF 6 (Mass Care, Emergency Assistance, Tempo- rary Housing, and Human Services), ESF 10 (Oil and Hazardous Materials Response), ESF 13 (Public Safety and Security), and ESF 15 (External Aairs). In recent years, EMU has also supported recovery eorts for multiple incidents across the country and its territories. The National Disaster Recovery Frame- work is a guide for disaster recovery partners to coordinate eectively after the response phase ends by focusing on how to restore, redevelop, and revitalize a jurisdiction after an incident. During recovery, agencies are organized into six Recovery Support Func- tions that are each led by a designated federal department or agency, known as a coordinat- ing agency. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is the coordinating agency of health and social services, and EMU supports this function. Evolving Emergencies and the All-Hazards Approach Over the years, there has been an uptick in the number of concurrent and subsequent disasters around the world (de Ruiter et al., 2020). According to the National Centers for Environmental Information (2023), in the 3 years from 2020 to 2022, the U.S. saw an average of 20 significant weather events per year, which was an increase from the 13.1 events per year seen in the 2010s. This find- ing, along with an annual estimated 15,000 acute accidental or illegal releases of toxic substances, makes it dicult to have a stan- dardized response to cover all contingencies and types of environmental emergencies (CDC, 2023). Figure 2 outlines the range of incidents that EMU has responded to over the past 7 years. EMU has embraced this challenge and has enhanced its organization to ensure wider


Emergency Management Unit Core Functions

Function as a conduit to intra- and inter-agency entities (e.g., intelligence, legislative, budgetary) .

Function as a lead for technical information on the nature, extent, status, and implications of ongoing, emerging, and evolving threats and subsequent efforts to reduce their adverse impacts.

Hazard Assessment and Disaster Risk Reduction

Strategic Alignment

EMU Core Functions

Function as a monitor, developer, arbiter, and catalyst for disseminating timely assessments of evolving events, courses of action, and communication to intra- and inter-agency partners.

Function as the center or agency lead for facilitating emergency management planning, training, and exercise , including identification of requirements, key skill sets and capabilities, capacity, and critical gaps in our preparedness posture.

Plans, Training, and Exercise s

Situational Awareness, Fusion, and Outreach

Incident Management and Coordination

Function as the coordinator, facilitator, and manager for complex emergency management operations; develop, approve, and update standardized processes to enable appropriate and adequate management of our resources.

Note. The five core functions guide the Emergency Management Unit (EMU) when monitoring, coordinating, or responding to a significant natural, chemical, radiological, nuclear, or technological incident.

tance to jurisdictions that have been aected by an emergency or disaster. Since the 2001 inception of emergency response functions at CDC and ATSDR, the oce has gone through many organizational iterations to better serve the changing needs of the nation. Initially as two teams focusing on natural hazards and hazardous materi- als in NCEH and ATSDR, respectively, the current structure ocially came together in 2021 under ATSDR solely to address any environmental incident, ranging from natu- ral disasters to hazardous material releases to radiological and technological incidents. Most EMU responses can, however, be sorted into two categories: hazardous materials and natural hazards. Hazardous Materials Foundational Framework ATSDR was created by the U.S. Congress through the Comprehensive Environmen- tal Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980. Also known as the Superfund Act, CERCLA (1980) established federal regulation for the removal and clean up of hazardous materials throughout the country. The act also revised the National Contingency Plan of 1968 to include guide-

lines and planning for the acute and threat- ened releases of hazardous substances (CER- CLA, 1980; U.S. EPA, 2023a, b). CERCLA charged ATSDR with assess- ing environmental public health hazards at Superfund sites, expanding scientific knowledge concerning toxic substances, and providing appropriate assistance during emergencies involving hazardous substances (ATSDR, 2018; CERCLA, 1980). Revisions to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 in 1984 and the passage of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthoriza- tion Act of 1986 further authorized ATSDR to provide environmental public health consults on request from U.S. EPA and state and local ocials. These acts also defined responsibilities for toxicological profiles, public health assessments, health regis- tries, and information communication and education (ATSDR, 2018). These amend- ments have expanded the ability of EMU to respond to hazardous materials events.

Natural Hazard Foundational Framework

EMU coordinates natural disaster incidents with NCEH and ATSDR under the National Response Framework and the National Disas-


April 2024 • Journal of Environmental Health

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