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Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planning


This page provides an overview of emergency health planning. In 2006, state and local governments were faced with a pandemic flu emergency. Local governments created response plans for major public health emergencies to accompany already existing comprehensive emergency management plans. One of the issues was continuity operations planning for services that might be disrupted if personnel were unable to come to work. Some of the documents generated during the previous pandemic flu threat have been retained as examples under the section, Pandemic Response Archived Documents.

In Washington State health planning is done by the state Department of Health and the local health boards and districts. Planning for emergencies, such as a pandemic health emergency requires multi-jurisdictional coordination and cooperation. The page is intended to supplement information from the Department of Health and local government health agencies. Included are sample preparedness plans and other documents related to local government operations.

Public Health Emergency Preparedness Planning

This section provides general references for public health emergency preparedness planning. Topical searches need to be done on some the federal websites to obtain needed technical information.

Federal Resources

Washington State Resources

General Reference

Washington State Laws Delineating Health Authority

This section lists the majority of the statutes, administrative regulations, and opinions that relate to the authority to address a major health emergency, such as a pandemic epidemic.

Memoranda and Opinion


  • Ch. 43.20 RCW - Establishes the state board of health; see, in particular:
    • RCW 43.20.050(2)(d), (e) - Authorizes the state board of health to adopt rules for the imposition and use of isolation and quarantine isolation and quarantine and for the prevention and control of infectious diseases
  • Ch. 43.70 RCW - Establishes the state department of health; see, in particular:
    • RCW 43.70.200 - Secretary of department of health is authorized to take legal action to enforce the public health laws and rules and regulations of the state Board of Health or local rules and regulations within the jurisdiction served by the local health department.
  • Ch. 70.05 RCW - Local health departments, boards, and officers; see, in particular:
    • RCW 70.05.060(4) - Requires local health departments and boards to provide for the control and prevention of any dangerous, contagious or infectious disease within their jurisdiction
    • RCW 70.05.070(3) - Authorizes the local health officer to control and prevent the spread of any dangerous, contagious, or infectious diseases that may occur within his or her jurisdiction
    • RCW 70.05.090 - Requires physicians to report to the local health officer any dangerous contagious or infectious disease, or with any diseases required by the state Board of Health to be reported
    • RCW 70.05.110 - Requires local health officials to report contagious or infectious diseases to the state Board of Health
  • Ch. 70.26 RCW - Pandemic Influenza Preparedness
  • Ch. 70.46 RCW - Health Districts
  • RCW 38.52.070 - Authorizes and directs each political subdivision to establish a local organization for emergency management and to establish local comprehensive emergency management plans, and identifies the powers of political subdivisions in the event of an emergency or disaster

Administrative Regulations

Other Legal References

Public Health Emergency Response Plans

Pandemic Response Archived Documents

The documents listed on this page are provided as examples generated during the pandemic flu epidemic in 2006. Should another pandemic occur, local governments should coordinate with their local health boards or health districts which are responsible for health planning.

  • Bellingham Policy ADM 00.00.05 - Ensuring continuity of government during pandemic flu epidemic - interim, 05/15/2006
  • Olympia Executive Order - Regarding steps to invoke in case of pandemic flu, 2006 - Personnel policy re conditions for employees to be at work - vaccinations, leaves, etc.
  • Pierce County Emergency Management Memo Re Pandemic Flu/Avian Flu, to Cities and Towns, Public Safety Agencies, School Districts, Port of Tacoma, Hospitals, from Steve Bailey, Director, Pierce County Emergency Management, 10/18/2005
  • Puyallup Memorandum of agreement between Puyallup Police Department and Tacoma-Pierce County Department of Health re response to quarantine and isolation, 05/15/2006
  • Spokane Valley
    • Continuity of Operations for Pandemic, 09/08/2009
    • Resolution No. 09-013 - Adopts policy whereby regular employees who are ready, willing and able to work, but for health and safety reasons are precluded from doing so due to risk of contagion, would receive their normal compensation. 09/2009
  • Sumner Pandemic Flu Plan, 05/2006

Last Modified: November 05, 2018