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The Cambridge Public Health Department hosted a public health preparedness Advanced Practice Center (APC) from 2004 through September 2009.  During this time, the Cambridge APC developed innovative training materials and other resources for local and county health departments across the country.

Emergency Mass Prophylaxis Operations

The following resources support the planning and workforce development activities for Region 4b's 27 local public health departments. 

Pictogram-based Signs for Mass Prophylaxis Services

In an emergency, service and process information within a point of distribution (POD) or emergency dispensing site (EDS) must be clearly communicated to clients. Ensuring that information is accessible improves efficiency, decreases client anxiety, and expands usability by at-risk populations.

In 2007, the Cambridge Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness developed a series of pictograms designed to promote universal access to emergency dispensing sites services. The signs were developed in collaboration with local and state public health professionals, and experts in universal design and accessibility.

List of signs

For more information about producing these signs for your POD or EDS, please email apc@naccho.org.

Emergency Dispensing Site (EDS) Action Plan Template

The Emergency Dispensing Site Action Plan Template (version 1.5) is an all-hazards post-exposure prophylaxis response plan capable of addressing a range of public health threats. This planning template lays out a process for planning, opening, operating, and closing an emergency dispensing site (EDS) or dispensing vaccination center (DVC). It also includes critical plan elements, such as job action sheets and incident response forms.

This introductory training for the Incident Management Team develops participants' knowledge and skill in managing mass prophylaxis operations. The training draws on participant experience and expertise, and encourages participants to identify their learning needs. The training is suitable for senior managers or supervisors with limited time. Curriculum materials complement the EDS Action Plan Template, version 1.5.

The Cambridge Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and Access Umbrella Inc., developed a training series that teaches participants (e.g., Medical Reserve Corps volunteers) how to use job action sheets, work within the chain of command, troubleshoot bottle necks, and identify client barriers to service. These trainings are highly interactive experiences that build knowledge and skills through teamwork and group problem-solving. Two versions of the curriculum are provided. One version presented in Point of Distribution language and the other using Emergency Dispensing Site language.

Decontamination Operations

Decontamination Communicator

The Decontamination Communicator is an 8 ½" x 14" laminated card that facilitates communication between responders and victims. The card is designed for standard decontamination operations, as well as radiation reception centers. 

The Decon Communicator was created in consultation with consumers and experts from the service community. Subject matter experts who contributed to this project include personnel from the Cambridge Fire Department, Cambridge Health Alliance, Mount Auburn Hospital (Cambridge, MA), the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services, the Shriver Center, Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Cambridge Advanced Practice Center for Emergency Preparedness developed these materials to aid local health departments in creating public health mutual aid agreements. These materials have been used to develop and implement a public health mutual aid agreement in a 27-community region in Massachusetts.

Mutual Aid Agreement Process

Leadership and Advocacy Training

This section offers technical education about the agreement and provides a forum for developing implementation plans. The materials can be readily adapted to build advocacy capacity for other local issues.

Regional Coordination 

Local Health Departments have generated a significant amount of information for emergency planning and response. This application was built to store the information that a regional administrator, who supports multiple jurisdictions, wants to have readily accessible to aid in planning for and supporting a regional response to a public health event. Ready for download, and fully modifiable, the Regional Resources Database currently supports planning activities for Massachusetts Region 4b's administrative staff.
To view the MS Access database file, save and extract the .zip file which contains the
.mbd database file for use with the MS Access program


Full Scale Exercises

Service-based Full Scale Exercises (FSE) are multi-agency events that are planned, resourced, run, and recovered from using emergency response practices like Emergency Dispensing Sites (EDS), incident command, a joint information center, and Medical Reserve Corps volunteers. Local health departments in Massachusetts Public Health Emergency Preparedness Region 4b have successfully used service-based FSE's to assess preparedness plans and capabilities while providing public health services to their communities. Past exercises have measured EDS throughput rates, assessed the effectiveness of just-in-time training, community outreach and inter-municipal resource pooling while increasing the accessibility and availability of influenza, pneumococcal, or tetanus vaccination services. In keeping with the best practices of the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program (HSEEP), these exercises are carefully planned projects with a conscientious focus on measuring process and outcome objectives, documenting lessons learned, and committing to actions that address inefficiencies and resource or planning gaps.

The following are tools designed to help manage and complete a service-based FSE project:

Example Service-based Full Scale Exercises:

Tabletop Exercises


Revised on April 12, 2012


If you have questions about public health emergency preparedness in Cambridge, please call 617-665-3816.

If this is an emergency, please call 911.


Cambridge Public Health Department
119 Windsor Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-665-3800 (main)
617-665-3888 (fax)
617-643-0744 (TTY)

Hours: Monday-Friday:
8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
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Derrick Neal
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