Health Emergency Preparedness and Response
Information for Health Professionals
This page contains information for health professionals on Australia's preparation to respond to a health emergency, such as a communicable disease outbreak, natural disaster, terrorist act or Chemical, Biological or Radiological (CBR) incident.
Public Health Information Hotline
Call 1800 004 599
1800 123 400
- Level of Pandemic Threat: Australia Level PROTECT - Overseas Level 6
Message from the Australian Government's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jim Bishop, AOPublic health authorities in Australia continue to develop and revise plans to deal with a range of health emergencies, including a CBR incident, mass casualty event, such as a natural disaster or bombing, or a communicable disease outbreak. The response to such an event would be coordinated at a national level by the Australian Health Protection Committee (AHPC) chaired by the Department of Health and Ageing.
Professional colleges, the Australian Medical Association and jurisdictional Health Department’s are cooperating with us to inform Australian health professionals of their important role in enhancing Australian preparedness.
You and your colleagues can contribute in several important ways:
- Consider your list of differential diagnoses. A patient may have unexplained symptoms that could be due to chemical or radiological poisoning or a bioterrorism agent. If you have any suspicions I urge you to take any necessary emergency action and to seek urgent telephone advice from an expert (Contact List for State and Territory Public Health and Communicable Disease Units) and refer the case as required.
- In the event of a health emergency the main part of the response is likely to involve emergency services and hospital care. However, it is possible that a general practice may receive casualties for initial assessment and treatment, or that ‘walking wounded’ or individuals fearing exposure to a CBR agent may present for treatment.
- Review practice safety and plans e.g. evacuation, security, business continuity and risk management plans (Australian and New Zealand Standard for Risk Management).
- You may encounter vulnerable patients who are anxious or distressed by thoughts of terrorism. Such people need special reassurance and care and possibly referral to a specialist.
Please accept my personal thanks for your support in enhancing our national health preparedness.
Jim Bishop AO
Australian Chief Medical Officer
- National Incident Room and National Emergency Response Plans
- Health Infrastructure Assurance Advisory Group
- Australian Emergency Manuals Series: Health Aspects of Chemical, Biological and Radiological (CBR) Hazards
- Overview of Biological Agents that could be used in a Terrorist Act
- Australian Clinical Guidelines for Acute Exposures to Chemical Agents of Health Concern: A Guide for the Emergency Department Staff
- IASC Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings