A Federal Agency Partnership: Assessing Extreme Cold Warnings in North Dakota through a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER)

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 1:30 PM
Room C213 (The Georgia World Congress Center )

Handout (1.7 MB)

In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to strengthen both organizations' science and services, and to understand, communicate, and reduce environmental and public health and safety impacts. The first use of this MOU was with a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER), which was employed to evaluate the effectiveness of the National Weather Service's (NWS) extreme cold warning experiment.

The NWS had been experimenting with extreme cold warnings for several winter seasons in select areas of the United States, primarily the Dakotas and Minnesota, and also in Arkansas, to assess their viability with, or in place of, wind chill services. While very effective at reaching the public to warn of impending weather hazard impacts, the NWS is limited in its ability to ascertain the effectiveness of those services. In 2012, the CDC contacted the NWS in Bismarck, North Dakota, with interest in conducting a CASPER in the state. The goal of the CASPER was to assess the success of the extreme cold warning experiment, public reception of NWS messages, and public perception of NWS services. One of CDC's strengths has been their ability to scientifically assess the effectiveness of public health communications. This led to the CASPER being conducted.

Application of the MOU clearly resulted in a mutually beneficial assessment of NWS services and the public health improvements as a result of those services. The CDC/NOAA MOU, extreme cold warning experiment, CASPER, and CASPER results will be presented.