The Office of Health Affairs Health Threats Resilience Division:
- Manages an early warning system to rapidly detect dangerous pathogens in the air.
- Provides health and medical expertise related to chemical preparedness, detection, response, and resilience to provide a comprehensive approach to protection from a chemical attack.
- Develops state and local guidance for health and medical experts to better access federal grant and training programs that will improve public health preparedness capability.
- Provides health and medical expertise and advice to federal planning and policy development both within the Department of Homeland Security and across the federal government.
- Leads the coordination of the Department’s programs to ensure the security of our nation’s food, agriculture, human and animal health.
- Ensures resiliency by providing appropriate information, resources and guidance to help state and local communities bolster efforts to prepare for and respond to catastrophic health threats.
The Health Threats Resilience Division comprises five branches:
- Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary Defense
- Health Incident Surveillance
- Planning and Exercise Support
- State and Local Initiatives
The Detection Branch oversees early detection monitoring systems for biological and chemical agents, including the BioWatch and Chemical Detection programs.
- BioWatch is the only federally-managed, locally-operated nationwide bio-surveillance system designed to detect the intentional release of select aerosolized biological agents. Deployed in more than 30 metropolitan areas throughout the country, the system is a collaborative effort of health personnel at all levels of government.
- The Chemical Detection program provides leadership and direction to assist in the nation’s preparedness against a chemical attack and ensure the execution of an effective response. The division deploys the Rapidly Deployable Chemical Detection System at various public events.
The Food, Agriculture, and Veterinary (FAV) Defense Branch coordinates with federal partners and other public and private entities to ensure awareness, readiness, and response to all disasters related to food, animals, agriculture, and their impact on public health. FAV provides advice to Department leadership on all security issues regarding food, water, agro-defense, animal health and zoonotic diseases. For example, FAV—in conjunction with other OHA and Department components, as well as various federal agencies—seeks to identify the course of events and determine the effects on the nation in regards to animal diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease, Avian Influenza, Rift Valley Fever, and Wheat Rust, as well as nationwide food contamination events.
The Health Incident Surveillance Branch ensures situational awareness and appropriate medical support to incident operations. Health Incident Surveillance provides health experts to the National Operations Center (NOC) and the FEMA National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), and informs DHS leadership on all health related issues arising from current disaster operations. The branch also provides support to the FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams (IMAT) by deploying staff with the teams to provide on the ground situational awareness of medical conditions before and during incidents and to provide any necessary medical care to team members. The Branch also oversees The National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC).
- The National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC) integrates bio-monitoring activities of executive branch departments to provide a biological common operating picture and facilitate earlier detection of adverse events and trends. The center fuses information from more than 12 federal agencies and state, local, private sector, and international sources of biosurveillance data on human, animal, plant, and environmental health to provide early warnings of a possible biological attack or a pandemic.
The Planning and Exercise Support Branch provides health and medical expertise and advice to federal planning and policy development both within the Department and across the federal government. Additionally, the Branch develops, influences, and participates in exercises that advance national preparedness and response capability for threats having catastrophic health consequences.
The State and Local Initiatives Branch develops state and local guidance for health and medical experts to better access federal grant and training programs that will improve public health preparedness capability. Additionally, this Branch facilitates the inclusion of state and local public health professionals within the national network of state and major urban area fusion centers, which improves the sharing of public health threat information.
The Health Threats Resilience Division is led by Director Sally Phillips, R.N., Ph.D.