Initial Checklist


Customize Materials. You will need to customize materials with information about your agency or location, and real-time details about the emergency situation.

Work with your PIO. Always work with your assigned public information staff on communication issues.

Not required. Use of these materials is not required. They were developed as resources to help in public health emergency planning and response. Always consult your agency's emergency plans and policies, and follow appropriate Incident Command System procedures.

Questions? We will continue to add resources to this site as they are developed. Please direct questions regarding this site or emergency communication resources to

Links to Other Sites

After verification of a biological agent or health threat, this checklist will help you prioritize questions, contact partners and begin developing your first messages for the media and the public.

Step 1: Verify situation.

  1. Have all of the facts been received? (to the best of your knowledge)

  2. Was information obtained from additional sources to put event in perspective?

  3. Was the information's origin ascertained?

  4. Was the information source's credibility ascertained?

  5. Is the information consistent with other sources?

  6. Is the characterization of the event plausible?

Step 2: Conduct notifications.

  1. Have notifications/contacts been made to the appropriate persons in your organization?

  2. Has your core team been briefed?

  3. Has your senior management group been notified?

  4. Has your communication team been briefed?

  5. Have the elected officials at all levels been notified?

  6. Have the appropriate local and county agencies been notified?

  7. Have the appropriate state agencies been notified?

  8. Have the appropriate federal agencies been notified?

  9. Have other groups (e.g., board members, clients, residents) been notified?

Step 3: Assess level of crisis.

  1. Has a crisis level (A,B,C,D) been identified that corresponds to the event characteristics?

  2. Have the hours of operation for the communication team been established?

  3. Has jurisdiction over information been established?

  4. Will federal agencies release information or will states?

Step 4: Organize and give assignments.

  1. Are the functional teams activated?

  2. Are the spokespeople activated?

  3. Have you decided on the operation and schedule?

  4. Were specific assignments given to each team or function?

  5. Do all those involved know their role and immediate tasks?

Step 5: Prepare information and obtain approvals.

  1. Have you planned for a timely release?

  2. Has the accuracy of all information been checked?

  3. Does the message show compassion?

  4. Were the specific audience concerns addressed?

  5. Does the message meet the criteria of good message development? (see Message Development Worksheet)

  6. Have you anticipated media questions and developed answers?

  7. Has the message been cleared for release?

Step 6: Release information to public.

  1. Have you released information as quickly as possible?

  2. Was the same information given to all media at the same time?

  3. Was the information released to other groups as planned? (e.g., partners, legislators, special interest groups)

  4. Was the information released through other channels as planned? (e.g., Web, 800 number, mailings, meetings,)