Public Health

Public Health Emergency Preparedness


Emergency PreparednessThe Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP) enhances the capacity of the Department of Public Health to prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters.

About the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) Program

  • Continuity of Operations Planning (COOP) - Participants will be provided with a general overview of continuity planning that incorporates how to identify workplace hazards, assess mission essential functions, preserve the safety and security of personnel and essential records, and ensure communication and technological information is accessed, circulated and distributed at the agencies respective level of preparedness.
  • Extreme Weather Preparedness:  Ways to prepare for seasonal hazards such as the rainy season and flooding, summer heat hazards, and winter weather hazards.
  • Mosquito-borne disease prevention.
  • Pet preparedness for emergencies.

Location & Contact

5115 El Paso Dr.
El Paso, TX 79905
Phone: 915-212-6624
Fax: 915-212-6520

Hours of Operation
Monday – Friday
8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

What is the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)?

The CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile is the nation’s largest supply of potentially life-saving medications and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. The stockpile ensures the right medicines and supplies are available when and where needed to save lives.

The SNS includes medicine and medical supplies that can prevent or treat diseases related to a public health emergency. With access to these, the stockpile can respond to:

  • Bacterial and viral diseases
  • Pandemic influenza
  • Radiation/nuclear emergencies
  • Chemical attacks
  • Natural disasters

What is a Point of Dispensing (POD)?

Points of dispensing (POD) are pre-identified sites strategically distributed throughout the city where the public can pick up medications to protect them against a threat during public health emergencies.

  • Only medication for the particular threat will be dispensed at a POD Site. For example, if the threat is an anthrax release, then PODs will only dispense antibiotics for anthrax.
  • The medication is free to everyone.
  • No one will be asked for proof of residence, citizenship status or personal identification.
  • The DPH uses a head of household dispensing model. This means that one adult can pick up medications for all the members of their household as long as they can answer a few basic questions for each person: name, date of birth, gender, and allergies. This reduces the volume of people at each POD and allows for faster dispensing times.
  • PODs will NOT treat sick people. If you are sick, you must report to your primary care physician, hospital, or urgent care site.
  • Lines will be very long, be prepared to wait for a while. Everyone will need to be patient. Many people will need to pick up medication.

There are two types of PODs:

  • Open PODs are open to the general public and will be announced using multiple media resources.
  • Closed PODs are only open to specific groups. For example, large corporations, jails, or nursing homes may set up dispensing operations for the population they serve. If your organization is interested in becoming a closed POD, click here.

How to prepare to attend a POD?

  • Fill out your household’s Screening Form BEFORE arriving at the POD. This will be available online and via your phone app through Dispense Assist when the PODs are activated.
  • Dress appropriately for weather and standing, lines will be long being that we will be serving the entire El Paso population.
  • Bring a snack, water, and any medication you may need to take on a schedule.
  • If possible, leave your children and other family members at home. Fewer people at the POD will allow for more efficient dispensing.

Steps to follow to receive medication at a POD

  • Step 1: BEFORE arriving at the POD, complete the Dispense Assist Screening Form for you and your household members. You may print each of the vouchers generated or show them to the staff from your Dispense Assist phone app.
  • Step 2: At the POD, provide screening forms
  • Step 3: Pick up medication
  • Step 4: Final questions

State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR)

STEAR is a free and voluntary service that helps local emergency responders have access to critical information when a disaster strikes.
Information provided during registration is shared with emergency planners and emergency responders to help ensure El Paso and County residents with access and functional needs have the services they need in an emergency.

All information provided is confidential.

Individuals encouraged to register in STEAR are as follows:

  • People with disabilities
  • People who are medically fragile
  • People with access and functional needs such as:
    • Limited mobility
    • Communication barriers
    • Require additional medical assistance during an emergency
  • People who require personal care assistance
  • People who require transportation assistance

El Paso residents may register using the following methods: 

Staff will be available for in-person registration assistance at the following locations: 

For more information call 211, visit or see the Press Release

What is radiation?

People are continuously exposed to radiation from natural sources such as cosmic rocks and soil, food, water, air, etc. However, other sources such as airline travel, medical procedures, fallout from past nuclear weapons testing, and radiation emergencies can also expose individuals to high levels of radiation.

What are radiation emergencies?

  • Nuclear
  • Dirty Bomb or Radiological Dispersal Device
  • Radiological Dispersal Device
  • Radiological Exposure Device
  • Nuclear Power Plant Accident
  • Transportation Accidents
  • Occupational Accidents

What should you do in a radiation emergency?

  • Get inside: Get to the middle of the building or basement, away from doors and windows
  • Stay inside: Take a shower or wipe exposed parts of your body with a damp cloth
  • Stay tuned: Use radios, televisions, computers, etc. to stay informed


Upcoming Training

Please join us at the upcoming Radiation Preparedness Training Sessions. In order to register please go to Please see the instructions on how to create an account to be able to register.

What will the health department do in an emergency dealing with radiation?

Depending on the incident and radioactive material involved, the health department will assist in the response by setting up a Community Reception Center to:

  • Conduct population monitoring
  • Dry decontaminate those who might be contaminated
  • Dispense prophylactic medication, if available


Infographic Improvised Nuclear Device
Infographic Nuclear Power Plant
Infographic Nuclear Weapon
Infographic Radiological Dispersal Device
Infographic Radiological Exposure Device
Infographic Transportation Accidents
Infographic Workplace Radiation Incidents

Community Outreach Information Network (COIN)

During a disaster, it has been observed that certain at-risk individuals, specifically those with access and functional needs, have required additional response assistance before during, and after an incident. Examples of persons with access and functional needs include but are not limited to:

  • Economic Disadvantage
  • Limited Language Skills
  • Deaf/hard of hearing/blind/ visually impaired
  • Medical Health Issues & Mental Health
  • Geographically or culturally isolated
  • Children, elderly, disabled

Dependent on the incident, local officials and first responders may become overwhelmed and may not be able to reach everyone. However, businesses, faith-based organizations, and community groups working with persons with access and functional needs can help us reach those public sectors by participating in our Community Outreach Information Network, EP| COIN.

What type of challenges do you face during an emergency? We want to know!
Learn More!