Maintaining operational and resilient emergency communications is imperative during pandemic response for both public health and safety and community well-being. Critical components of emergency communications are 911 centers and include emergency communication centers (ECC), public safety answering points (PSAP), public safety communication centers (PSCC), emergency operations centers (EOC), and other public safety command centers. A pandemic presents a real and immediate threat to the ability of these centers to operate effectively. In response, CISA has developed a series of guidance documents for all levels of government to use when addressing a pandemic and its potential impact to emergency communication centers. These resources provide guidance on pandemic planning, staffing and operating procedures, and cleaning and disinfecting for 911 centers.
Aligned to existing guidance, recommendations, training courses, and including input from practitioners and CISA's subject matter expertise, SAFECOM, the National Council of Statewide Interoperability Coordinators, and the National 911 Program, the document series contains four sets of guidance:
- Guidelines for Executives: 911 Center Pandemic Recommendations—emphasizes the importance of communications centers, accentuates the particular risk of a pandemic to resiliency of 911 operations, communicates executive-level action, and describes available guidance for 911 administrators.
- Guidelines for 911 Centers: Pandemic Planning—highlights governance, resource planning, and contingency considerations from a holistic perspective during a pandemic.
- Guidelines for 911 Centers: Pandemic Operating Procedures—recommends how to organize, train, and care for personnel while operating during a pandemic.
- Guidelines for 911 Centers: Cleaning and Disinfecting During a Pandemic—presents cleaning and disinfecting guidance specific to public safety and resources for 911 centers during a pandemic.
These guidance documents were developed align with existing guidance and resources and incorporate input and best practices from practitioners and subject matter experts to address any pandemic. The document suite provides advisory recommendations that are not to be considered federal directives or standards. Individual centers should review and apply the guidance based on their own requirements and discretion. CISA recommends that all pandemic planning actions appropriately balance public safety, workforce health and safety, and the continued delivery of essential services and functions.
A new addition to CISA’s pandemic response guidance series, the Emergency Communications Best Practices for Establishing Alternate Care Sites document provides unique considerations for federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial entities tasked with establishing communications capabilities for an Alternate Care Site (ACS) during a health crisis or other disasters. ACS is defined as a facility temporarily converted, constructed, or repurposed for healthcare use during a public health emergency to reduce the burden on hospitals and established medical facilities. The document outlines crucial roles and coordination points, highlights recommendations for ensuring the availability of critical communications services, and discusses cybersecurity considerations; existing resources on ACS development are also presented.