Crisis, Emergency, Risk Communication

% of Health Department staff trained in CERC principles

15%Q4 2018

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Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: December 2017

Author: Communication Office, Planning Department, Vermont Department of Health

Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (known as CERC) is a proven approach to communicating effectively during public health emergencies and events. CERC was first developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (with consultation from the Health Department’s communication director and many others) following the events of Sept. 11, 2001 and anthrax threats of 2002. CERC has been revised and refined ever since – incorporating lessons learned from subsequent events and evolving communication technologies.

 

CERC training was most recently offered in June 2016 and in November 2017. These two-day training sessions were presented by an expert CDC trainer.

 

We have identified Health Department roles for which CERC training is recommended:

 

CERC team members (Communication Office staff and communication positions in each division) are expected to have the training. These are the communication experts who will be needed to support the response to an emergency event.

 

Local health directors, local health emergency preparedness specialists, and division directors should also have CERC training, since the training will inform their interactions with the public or with those who support the public during emergencies.

 

All these roles combined total 10% of Health Department staff. To date 11% of staff have received CERC training, including nearly everyone in the roles defined.

 

Many communication professionals from other Vermont state government agencies, hospitals and first responders also attended the most recent CERC training. This training will help to establish a common approach to communication during an event.

Partners

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Public Health Information Coalition

What Works

In addition to CERC training, exercises and workshops help to hone CERC skills. Hot-washes and after-action reports are also valuable in improving CERC capabilities.

Action Plan

We will ensure that Health Department leadership is aware of CERC and its value to the organization. We will continue to make CERC training available when there are staff who need this training. Basic CERC training can be provided by Communication Office staff.

Why Is This Important?

CERC principles are used by public health professionals and public information officers to provide information that helps individuals, stakeholders and entire communities make the best possible decisions for themselves and their loved ones. CERC recognizes that during emergencies, we work under impossible time constraints and must accept the imperfect nature of our choices. CERC draws from lessons learned during public health emergencies and research in the fields of public health and emergency risk communication.

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