Emergency Preparedness

Goodhue County Health & Human Services (GCHHS) Public Health Emergency Preparedness involves coordinating, planning, and communicating with partner agencies, organizations, and the community in order to understand potential health threats and have effective responses to public health emergencies.

Some of our emergency preparedness responses fall along traditional public health lines, such as responding to a pandemic or high-consequence infectious disease outbreak. Other less traditional responses, at first glance, do not seem to be public health-oriented, like assisting in evacuation coordination or providing support operations for mass casualty/fatality events. However, these aspects keep our county aligned with both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Public Health Preparedness Capabilities and the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Support Functions (FEMA ESF).

Notifications to the Public

In the event of an emergency involving public health or a GCHHS response, we will notify the public via news releases to local radio stations, newspapers, and postings on our homepage and Facebook page.

Major Public Health Emergency Response Actions Include

Mass Dispensing

GCHHS is prepared to respond to a declared communicable disease pandemic or biological terrorism event by establishing mass dispensing clinics. We will work closely with the CDC and MDH (Minnesota Department of Health) to provide information to the public explaining what to do, where to go, and how to protect the health of your loved ones.


GCHHS is prepared to set up and operate a housing shelter in response to a man-made or natural disaster that causes a large number of people to leave their homes. The shelter provides a safe place for families while they wait for their community to be cleared for return or they find a better long-term housing solution.

Mass Casualty/Mass Fatality

GCHHS is prepared to establish a Family Assistance Center in the event of a mass casualty/mass fatality event in order to assist hospitals and the Medical Examiner's Office. We will collect the names of potential victims and provide worried family and friends with a safe place to go while they await information on their loved ones.


In the event of a radiological release at Xcel Energy Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant, GCHHS is prepared to assist in coordinating evacuation assets for long-term care facilities and at-risk populations within the 10-mile emergency planning zone. GCHHS is available to work with facilities as they write and refine their evacuation plans.

Emergency Planning

It’s hard to prepare for every situation, however, there are many things you can do in order to be prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Medical History/Needs

Have a list ready of who takes what medications. This information is necessary prior to dispensing medical countermeasures at a mass dispensing clinic. If your family was forced to evacuate quickly it can help ensure they receive proper medication refills. Be sure to include food and drug allergies.

Know what additional medical equipment support is necessary for daily living. Seniors and people with disabilities have their homes custom-prepared to meet their daily needs from small details to big durable equipment, which can be overlooked in a hurried evacuation. Use this worksheet as a starting point to identify your electricity needs. Take note while you are not stressed.

Evacuation Plans

Know what you need and where it is. Identify ahead of time what you need to take if you have to leave your home quickly. Pre-pack what you can to maximize your time. Seniors, families with small children, and some people with disabilities may have different needs. Don’t forget your pets! Collars with tags, food, veterinary records, leashes, and crates are all things that help make their evacuation less stressful for you and your pets.

Know what to do and where to go. Plan and rehearse how you will get out of your home and where you will go. Having a known designated meeting location both near your house (in the event of a fire) or at a location away from your home (in the event of an evacuation) ensures everyone knows where to go. If you need help evacuating, pre-coordinate who will help you and practice that plan.

Know how to check-in. Have a family communications plan. List important phone numbers and set a method or a third-party person everyone uses to check in with. This allows others to know where everyone is and that they are okay or need assistance. For example, some families may have everyone call Aunt Sally in Chicago, while others may have everyone post a message on Mom's social media account. The important thing is to have a plan that everyone knows.

Radiological Preparedness

10-Mile Emergency Planning Zone

In the event of a radiological release from the Xcel Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant, residents may be directed to evacuate or shelter in place. Families should review their shelter-in-place and evacuation plans. Talk with your school, daycare, or appropriate long-term care facility to learn their plans for your family member.

50-Mile Ingestion Zone: Know what steps to take if you are in an ingestion zone to protect yourself and your family, also your animals and your food.


The following links take you to automated emergency alert systems:


Consider signing up to help out in a public health emergency. Volunteers do not have to be medically trained.

Sign up for Minnesota Responds — it is a good way to help your community out.

Public Health

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