Disaster Research

Strengthening the Actions of Public Health Officials, Emergency Response Personnel, and Law Enforcement during a Disaster on the U.S. Gulf Coast


In the United States, shortages in the public health workforce are challenging the nation’s health system. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Occupational Health and Safety Specialists is expected to increase by 4% (2,800 added jobs) from 2014 to 2024. Demand for Environmental Scientists and Specialists is expected to increase by 11% (10,200 added jobs) over the same period. To meet the needs of the growing population, the public health workforce must be increased through targeted recruitment and training.




Case Studies in Environmental and Occupational Health

Case Study 1: Buffalo 292 Barge Spill in Galveston Bay, 1996

  • Key Learning Objectives
    • Describe the responsibility of federal, state, and local governments
    • Describe resources available in response to the specified emergency
    • Determine a command structure that oversees spill response
    • Summarize state and local emergency planning requirements, response priorities, phases and procedures
    • Provide procedures for the use of chemical(s) in removing spilled hazardous materials
    • Describe best-available projections
    • Improve response coordination, integration and communication

Case Study 2: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, LA, 2005

  • Key Learning Objectives
    • Clarify the roles of federal, state, and local governments in emergency management and the contribution of community partnerships
    • Describe the legal role of public health agencies in a declared state of emergency
    • Describe a public health agency’s legal authority and role during a mass evacuation
    • Understand public safety, security, and provision of public health services of displaced populations

Case Study 3: Hydrochloric Acid Leak, Port of Texas City, Texas, 2012

  • Key Learning Objectives
    • Describe reporting structure
    • Describe spill response procedures
    • Describe the roles and responsibilities of agencies
    • Assess the of risk exposure
    • Understand public health ethics

Training and Resources