Assessing Emergency Response Training Needs of Local Environmental Health Professionals
The Michigan Center for Public Health Preparedness collaborated with environmental health (EH) professionals at the local, state, and national levels to develop and conduct a state-wide study to identify the preparedness-training needs of local EH professionals in Michigan. The specific aims of the study were first, to determine the self-rated level of confidence among Michigan’s EH professionals regarding relevant emergency planning and response competencies; second, to determine the specific preparedness training topic preferences of Michigan’s EH professionals; and third, to establish baseline needs assessment data to be used to track progress toward higher levels of readiness after implementation of planning, training, and other preparedness activities. The study recruited 400 EH professionals to complete the survey (61% of all EH professionals in 45 local health departments in Michigan). The top training topic preferences were “environmental health role in emergencies” followed by “water security” and “food security.” The EH professionals rated their confidence in demonstrating relevant emergency planning and response competencies. Most of the average ratings (on a 5-point scale) were close to the scale’s middle point (rating = 3), suggesting that EH professionals rate themselves as “somewhat confident” in performing important tasks in preparedness and response. Variations in specific ratings helped identify training needs. The discussion of these results focused on the implications of this study for the development of emergency response training for environmental health professionals.