The Office of Preparedness and Response programs work together towards a prepared Maryland.

Expand the sections below to learn more about the resources and services our staff provide before, during, and after an emergency.​​​​



The Maryland ESSENCE (Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics) program uses non-traditional data sources to quickly identify disease outbreaks and other suspicious patterns of illness. This rapid, automated process allows our staff to gather and analyze data more quickly than a traditional method of reporting disease.

Our ESSENCE epidemiologists use this data to produce a weekly summary. Our findings are sent to local and state agencies, the healthcare system, and other response partners so they can make the best decisions for the health of their communities.

Learn More...​​

Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP)


The mission of the Hospital Preparedness Program is to support and enhance the ability of hospitals and health care systems to provide effective care and save lives during emergencies. The Office of Preparedness and Response receives annual federal funding to advance these goals and objectives. The Maryland Department of Health awards these funds in the form of grants to our health care system partners across the state (including hospitals, free-standing emergency departments, emergency medical services, community health centers, and home care and hospice agencies). Health care system partners utilize the Hospital Preparedness Program funds to enhance their ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies that pose a threat to the health and safety of the community.

Learn More...​​​

Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps


The Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps is a community-based volunteer program that helps support public health initiatives and response capabilities in Maryland. Maryland Responds is made up of dedicated Responders who stand ready to volunteer their skills, expertise, and time. Maryland Responders may deliver a variety of necessary public health services during a crisis. For example, they may provide direct care to individuals seeking medical or mental health attention at disaster relief shelters. Volunteers may also serve a vital role by assisting their communities with ongoing public health needs (e.g., immunizations, screenings, health and nutrition education, volunteering in community health centers and local hospitals).​

Learn More...​​​

Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Readiness

Medical countermeasures are medicines and supplies used to prevent, protect against, or treat diseases, natural disasters, or chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats. Medical countermeasures can include vaccines, drugs, or protective equipment such as gloves and face masks. State and local health departments must be prepared to get medical countermeasures to the public during a large emergency. This is known as Medical Countermeasure Readiness. In addition to Medical Countermeasure Readiness, there are other programs that assist in the response to a public health emergency. These programs are the Cities ​Readiness Initiative​ and the Strategic National Stockpile.

Health Systems Surge and Planning

The Health Systems Surge and Planning program is responsible for developing coordinated statewide plans for public health and health care preparedness and response. We work with public health and health care partners to plan for and respond to the rapidly expanding health care preparedness needs of Maryland residents. This includes the potential for a surge in the number of people requiring public health and health care services during an emergency.

Learn more...​

Training and Exercises

The Office of Preparedness and Response routinely tests emergency response plans, policies, agreements, and procedures through preparedness exercises. These exercises provide the opportunity to practice prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery capabilities for public health and medical emergencies such as natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and disease outbreaks.

Exercises allow staff to train and learn in a realistic but risk- and fault-free environment. These exercises help identify unmet needs, points of confusion, gaps, challenges, and best practices. Results are shared with partners to maintain the state’s level of preparedness, which helps protect Maryland residents.

The Office of Preparedness and Response also coordinates and sponsors training courses throughout the year. All staff are trained in the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS).​

Learn More...​​