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Navigating Legal Landscapes for Disaster Preparedness

eli paramedic mission


Disaster responders are a vital asset – they are critical for both national health security and emergency response efforts. Disaster responders provided invaluable services following terrorist attacks (such as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings), natural disasters (such as Hurricanes Ida and Ian, and wildfires in Maui and California), and infectious disease emergencies (such as the H1N1 Influenza and COVID-19 pandemics).


Disaster responders come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including clinical and non-clinical professions, which is both beneficial and challenging. Diversity among professions is a strength because it allows participation in numerous activities, like training exercises, establishment of emergency sheltering, provision of disaster medical support, and coping with medical facility surge capacity. But the lack of uniformity also creates division, impedes the standardization of disaster responses, and makes it difficult to create a baseline for knowledge and skills.


Laws impact disaster response activities and can influence decision-making; however, accessing and summarizing laws can be difficult. The Emergency Law Inventory (ELI) is a tool developed by the Temple University College of Public Health that helps individuals navigate through over 1,800 disaster response laws enacted by the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, 8 territories and freely associated states, and the federal government. ELI gives clear, concise summaries of laws impacting disaster responders. The laws are searchable by profession, jurisdiction, legal topic, and keyword so users can quickly identify the provisions that are important to them.


A project overview can be downloaded here

Please contact us if a law needs to be updated.

NOTE: The content on this site is offered only as a public service and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site and this tool should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. This project was supported by contract number 2023-10170, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). The contents of this site are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services, or NACCHO.