Distinctions between Federal, State, and Local Authority

Distinctions between Federal, State, and Local Authority in Responding to Health Emergencies

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In general, the first response will usually be conducted at the level of local and state authority, using local public health and/or public safety resources. Most health emergencies begin at a local level, and show a progressive and sometimes subtle increase in severity, such that it is only when significant numbers of victims are identified that authorities realize that an emergency is occurring. In Texas, a response to such an emergency will occur within the framework of local resources, which vary from region to region and from urban to rural areas. Local health departments may be mobilized, and state authority may be activated. State health codes are generally quite satisfactory in implementing local responses. As the emergency grows, the state emergency response plan may be activated as well. Even in the instance where state and local personnel may be seemingly managing an emergency response, there is reason to secure the assistance of federal resources and authority, especially if waivers of federal law (e.g. Medicare, Medicaid, EMTALA, HIPAA) are needed. This training will distinguish between federal, state, and local authority in response to health emergencies and identify types of emergency assistance that may be available upon request.

CEUs: 1 contact hour (0.1 CEUs) awarded upon successful completion


By the end of this training, the learner will be able to:

  • Explain differences between local, state, and federal authorities for public health emergencies
  • Identify who has the authority to declare a public health emergency
  • Discuss different types of emergency assistance.


Capability 3: Emergency Operations Coordination

Function 1: Conduct preliminary assessment to determine the need for public activation

Function 2: Activate public health emergency operations

Function 3: Develop incident response strategy

Function 4: Manage and sustain the public health response

Function 5: Demobilize and evaluate public health emergency operations


Model Leadership

1.6 Act within scope of one’s legal authority

Plan for & Improve Practice Results

3.3 Participate in improving the organization’s capacities (including, but not limited to programs, plans, policies, laws, and workforce training)

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