Presentation: Applied Public Health Teams of the US Public Health Service

Speaker: CAPT Joe Maloney, MPH, REHS



Customary public health services can be overwhelmed or disrupted in the aftermath of a major disaster. Populations residing in or returning to disaster-affected areas will likely be exposed to hazards. In addition, damage or destruction of public health and community infrastructures such as drinking or waste water treatment systems, health surveillance capacity, and healthcare or laboratory services could contribute to a breakdown of existing health protections from physical, biological, or chemical hazards in an affected community. To assist in disaster response efforts, The US Public Health Service created five Applied Public Health Teams.



In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, it became apparent that a more coordinated federal response was required in order to provide the general public with essential public health services following a disaster. In 2006, the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS), Office of Force Readiness and Deployment (OFRD) created the five Applied Public Health Teams (APHTs). These teams were formed to assist and augment local and/or state emergency responders in preventing or reducing human illness, injury, or death from disasters. The APHTs are comprised of U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps Officers and are administered by the OFRD in cooperation with other HHS Operating Divisions or offices. The APHTs are activated and deployed by the Office of the Secretary (OS) HHS or designee based on requests from appropriate officials.


An APHT can provide essential public health services for a disaster to include:

         Pre-emergency/planning (e.g., prior to hurricane landfall);

         Immediate response phase; and

         Recovery phase.


The provision of APHT services is tailored to meet local needs as requested by state, tribal, or local officials and approved by the appropriate HHS leadership. The delivery of services is based on the scalable, flexible, and adaptable operational capabilities of an APHT. The APHTs are organized, staffed, trained in readiness, and equipped for field operations to provide direct support of local officials and prioritized public health activities. An APHT may aid in planning and delivery of programmatic, scientific, and technical activities. APHTs can also provide consultation to address public health emergency response or recovery needs. In a major emergency, two or more APHTs could be deployed to multiple jurisdictions for similar or different objectives and activities. Each APHT would operate under a pre-configured APHT command and management structure in support of the local authority or incident command.




Learning Objectives (please provide three objectives for your Lecture Hall presentation):

At the end of this Lecture Hall presentation, attendees will be able to:


1.       Identify the response capabilities of Applied Public Health Teams (APHTs).

2.       Recognize the functional structure and service delivery groups of APHTs

3.       Understand the mechanism by which APHTs can be deployed as federal government assets.