Due to the events of 2001 and continuing terrorism concerns, preparedness and response has become a maxim in the laboratory community. Laboratories may be tasked with responding to an event that is significantly outside the norm. Response components such as direction/control issues or workforce management may interfere with an appropriate and timely response. Therefore, it is important that laboratory personnel (both management and staff) recognize the importance of disaster planning and preparedness.

Disaster planning requires a major investment of resources, including people, time, and money. It is important that both the facility and the laboratory recognize that planning is a crucial process and commit to the effort for it to be successful. No individual can write a plan, nor should a facility expect to complete a plan in an unrealistic time frame. In addition, an ongoing commitment to keep the plan current is critical. Addressing one section at a time, rather than attempting to complete the plan as a whole, can successfully expedite the planning process. Set realistic goals given your existing resources. The most important step in disaster planning is to START.

To help address the disaster planning issue from a laboratorian’s perspective, the Laboratory Preparedness, Education and Safety (LPES) Team at the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory has prepared three documents that may be useful in this planning process.

  • Laboratory Assessment
  • Template for an Emergency Response Plan: This document provides an outline that a laboratory may utilize to construct their plan.
  • Guidance: This document corresponds with the template. The purpose is to provide explanations and to pose questions intended to stimulate thinking and discussion during the planning process.

Related Links:

Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy - Bioterrorism
Association of Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc (APIC)
Department of Homeland Security
Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)