Philadelphia City Branding Image

Division of Disease Control

Text Size:

What the PDPH is Doing to Prepare

What the PDPH is Doing to Prepare

The Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Program is in charge of developing plans for public health emergencies in Philadelphia. We work hard every day to make sure that we can respond to public health emergencies.


We write our plans as all-hazards plans. All-hazards means that our plans can be used for a variety of emergencies, instead of having a different plan for each kind of emergency. We have also developed detailed protocols that outline our response actions for specific types of responses, such as medicating a large population in a short time frame.


When we respond to emergencies, some staff may be completing tasks that that they do not normally perform. In order to ensure staff are ready to complete these tasks in an emergency, we train them to their potential roles and conduct exercises which allow staff in critical positions to practice their roles.

Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)
During a public health emergency, we may need additional personnel to help with the response, both those with medical training and those with other skill sets. We have a committed group of volunteers called the Philadelphia Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) that help keep Philadelphia safe by responding to public health emergencies.

We train our Philadelphia MRC for their potential roles in a public health emergency. Training topics include: emergency antibiotic pill dispensing, medical care in emergency shelters, emergency vaccination, psychological first aid, radiation emergencies, Incident Command System (ICS) and much more. Some of our trainings offer free continuing education credits for licensed volunteers (MD, PA, RN, social worker, and pharmacists).

Want to volunteer? Find out more about our Philadelphia MRC.


As we write our plans, we have to make sure that they will work in an emergency. To do this, we exercise, or test the plans by actually doing what we say we’ll do in the plans. Exercising our plans helps us to learn our roles in an emergency response and to improve our overall response.


Public health emergencies are very complex problems. The Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Program works closely with a variety of partners to help with planning for them.

We work with other programs in the Division of Disease Control, like the Acute Communicable Disease Control Program, the Epidemiology Unit, and the Immunization Program.

We also work with other divisions throughout the Department of Public Health, like Environmental Health Services, Air Management Services and Ambulatory Health Services.

The Bioterrorism and Public Health Preparedness Program works with the following city, state and federal government agencies:

One of the most important parts of responding to public health emergencies is being able to communicate with first responders, employees and the public. PDPH has many tools to help us communicate in an emergency. Learn more about how you can receive important public health information below.

Information for the Public

  • Health Bulletin
    The PDPH Health Bulletin is a newsletter that comes out twice a year, with special editions whenever there is a public health incident or emergency, such as a disease outbreak, extreme heat event, or hurricanes, storms, and flooding.

  • ReadyPhiladelphia
    We encourage everyone to sign up to receive emergency text alerts from ReadyPhiladelphia. By registering, you can start to receive alerts about severe weather, road closures, emergencies (including public health) and crime alerts for your neighborhood.


Information for the Public

  • Health Alert Network
    We can get information to doctors, nurses, and people who work in the health care industry quickly by using our Health Alert Network. The Health Alert Network sends out Health Alerts written for people with clinical training whenever there is some new recommendation or disease outbreak that they should know about.

  • Health Information Portal
    We maintain another webpage written for people with clinical training to communicate important health-related information to Philadelphia-area health care professionals. The Health Information Portal webpage provides information and resources on reporting diseases, disease surveillance reports, seasonal public health information, in-depth guidelines for diagnosis and management of disease and conditions, and guidance for protecting public health.


Visit the pages below to learn about what public health emergencies are, and what you can do to prepare.

Facts About Public Health Emergencies
What You Can Do to Prepare
Volunteer with the Philadelphia MRC