Are you and your family prepared for a disaster? Learn more during National Preparedness Month

collage of photos of EPR staff in action

September is recognized each year as National Preparedness Month in order to raise awareness about disaster incidents that may affect public health and safety. Emergencies include a broad range of natural and man-made disasters, including floods, tornadoes, wildfires, landslides, hurricanes, earthquakes, extreme weather, power outages, gas leaks, terrorism and pandemics. 

El Paso County Public Health (EPCPH) has an Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR) program with a comprehensive and coordinated emergency response plan in place and a team of dedicated staff with the training to protect the health and safety of the community during an emergency. 

Community collaborations are essential for public safety 

The EPR team collaborates with many first responder agencies and partners to provide emergency preparedness planning, training, exercises and epidemiology support to El Paso County. Members of these collaborative efforts include representatives of hospitals, emergency management, law enforcement, fire, EMS, behavioral health, health care coalitions and others to effectively respond to incidents that have a public health and medical impact. 

Earlier this year, the EPR team was formally recognized with Project Public Health Ready, a criteria-based training and recognition program through the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).  EPCPH continues to demonstrate excellence in emergency preparedness, meeting a set of rigorous criteria and an all-hazards approach to planning and exercises. Highlighting this incredible award and the accomplishments of the team, EPCPH Director Susan Wheelan noted, “We have an outstanding seven-member emergency preparedness and response team who are dedicated to educating and assisting county residents to be prepared when facing a disaster in our area, whether natural or man-made. With approximately 500 health departments out of the 3,000 across the country that have this designation, our agency is currently the only nationally recognized EPR program in Colorado, demonstrating our commitment to excellence.”   

Personal preparedness is also highly important when disaster occurs 

Having a personal preparedness plan is an important step for residents to take, in order to help protect them and their families in the event that disaster strikes. Items in this plan should include an emergency kit with supplies to last three or four days. The kit should contain water, nonperishable food, matches, candles, blankets, batteries, chargers, flashlights, extra clothes, medications, hand sanitizer, a first aid kit and other items. More information on building a kit can be found on our Instagram or at 

It is extremely important to have an evacuation plan. Other planning factors include having emergency contact numbers, taking mobile phones and computers (with power cords and chargers) and having a meet-up location in case anyone gets separated. For more detailed information on making an evacuation plan, visit