Program Overview

When disaster strikes, patients need their health care system to be ready to respond. However, as recent hurricanes and other large-scale emergencies have shown, being able to function effectively in a crisis is challenging for even the most prepared health care systems, communities and jurisdictions.  

ASPR aims to address gaps in coordinated patient care during disasters through the establishment and maturation of a new Regional Disaster Health Response System (RDHRS). As part of the RDHRS, ASPR aims to establish a network of state-level clinical response assets as well as inter-state regional assets to create a more coherent, comprehensive, and capable health care disaster response system that can respond to 21st century health security threats and integrate into daily care delivery systems. 

ASPR is looking at innovative approaches to building the RDHRS and continuing the dialogue with our state and local health system partners to explore various avenues to develop the system. ASPR is building a new system for catastrophic disaster medical care. Current investments in healthcare preparedness – including its Hospital Preparedness Program, National Disaster Medical System, Regional Emergency Coordinators, Medical Reserve Corps, and Regional Treatment Network for Ebola and Other Special Pathogens -- will serve as the foundation for the new system. Through the RDHRS, ASPR aims to optimize clinical surge capacity, provide clinical expertise to support healthcare surge planning, and ensure that appropriate clinical expertise is integrated as a partner in emergency planning and response. 

The RDHRS will be a tiered system that builds upon the existing Medical Surge Capacity and Capability (MSCC) foundation for local medical response, including trauma systems and healthcare coalitions, by enhancing coordination mechanisms and strengthening connections between clinical and administrative capabilities at the state and regional levels. 

A regional disaster health response system combines the best of the health care coalition approach with this tiered model, thereby building coordinated capabilities for all types of disasters by expanding the concept beyond diseases to include readiness for chemical, biological, and radiological attacks. 

The RDHRS is intended to define enhance the delivery of clinical care when the existing referral patterns and health care delivery capacity and capabilities are exceeded by catastrophic events. 

The RDHRS is not intended to alter or displace current local patient referral patterns and it will not replace the assistance HHS now provides through the Hospital Preparedness Program, National Response Framework and the National Disaster Recovery Framework, or our federal disaster response teams, such as teams from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS). 

Program Capabilities

  • Build a partnership for disaster health response to support clinical specialty care; 
  • Align plans, policies, and procedures for clinical excellence in disasters; 
  • Increase state-wide and regional medical surge capacity; 
  • Improve state-wide and regional situational awareness, such as the availability of hospital beds; and 
  • Develop metrics and test the regional system’s capabilities. 


The Southern Regional Disaster Response System (SRDRS) was made possible by Award Number HITEP 210054-01-00 from the Office of the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR). Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of ASPR or HHS.