North Carolina public health professionals, led by the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHP&R), traveled recently to Iowa to assist in recovery efforts from damage caused by flooding. The request for the assistance came from EMAC, which is the Emergency Management Assistance Compact that coordinates interstate mutual aid. The plan for the trip is to have the North Carolina team to conduct as many as four Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) needs surveys over the next few days. A CASPER is a household survey using random sampling to rapidly estimate community impact and critical needs resulting from a disaster. Several hundred households are randomly selected for household interviews to represent tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of households in a defined area. The capability to conduct such assessments is made possible by using scientific survey techniques developed by the CDC and by using handheld computers to record survey responses and guide survey teams through unfamiliar places using GPS/GIS map technology. The assessments will help to determine the public health needs pertaining to access to water, power, food, shelter and medical needs.
Melissa Lawrence, Rutgers Student Intern, VERTICES, LLC