DomesticPreparedness met with Ellen P. Embrey, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. The Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness outlines the military’s role in national disaster support and medical readiness under Emergency Support Function 8 (ESF 8 –Medical and Health Services), and lists the medical support capabilities her department brings to bear.

Overview of Department of Defense (DOD) Support under Emergency Support Function 8 (Medical and Health Services)

The Pentagon’s role under ESF 8 – i.e., as a National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) federal partner; particular reference is made to the movement, tracking, and regulation of patients. Also discussed: maintenance of the Federal Coordination Centers (FCCs), and definitive care.

DOD Support for the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS)

The Federal Coordination Centers (FCCs) and the interfaces with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and state health officers; the federal Primary Receiving Center (PRC) as the common way to manage patient care at the local level during and after a disaster; the role of the NDMS Operations Support Center as a focal point to synthesize national public health and medical information and provide situational awareness.

DOD and the NDMS Federal Coordination Centers

The capabilities and operations of the FCCs; developing, exercising, and evaluating local PRA (Patient Reception Area) plans; the role of the FCC coordinator in planning, testing, and coordinating local patient reception operations.

The NorthCom and TransCom Roles in NDMS

The current U.S. Northern Command (NorthCom) and U.S. Transportation Command (TransCom) plans to support all-hazards disaster-relief efforts in terms of the military healthcare commitments to the NDMS; TransCom’s “back end” crews for patient movement. Also, the TransCom air, sea, and ground assets available for the movement of patients in disaster-relief operations.

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Ellen Embrey

Ellen Embrey, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Health Protection and Readiness in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, is responsible for overseeing the department’s efforts to develop and implement policies and programs related to DOD deployment medicine, force health protection, national disaster support, and the medical readiness of the nation’s armed forces. Before assuming her current post she served for 16 years in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. A 1976 graduate of Virginia Tech, she began her federal career as a management intern at the U.S. Civil Service Commission.

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