Improvements in the nation’s ability to handle both emergent and familiar health threats depend upon deliberate planning for the smart flow of information among officials and with the public. The new field of public health preparedness has been predisposed towards a “closed” system in
which political leaders and their health, safety, and security advisors—at all levels of government—have defined the direction of health emergency management policies and plans without sufficient input from the populations that they seek to protect. Under these conditions, the citizen role
in helping remedy health disasters has been very circumscribed, leaving undeveloped any broad understanding of, or institutionalized mechanisms for tapping the valuable contributions of citizens and civil society throughout the complete disaster cycle. To help remedy this deficit, this paper describes and illustrates a continuum of public-spirited contributions that civic groups and individuals can make to health emergency management, and it calls for a model program that would establish and sustain “community engagement” as the national standard for state and local health emergency planning.
Schoch-Spana, Monica. 2008. "Model citizenship in the management of public health emergencies: The role of open government." In Selected essays on state open government law and practice in a post-9/11 world, eds. Jeffrey F. Addicott and Ema Garcia. Tucson, AZ: Lawyers & Judges Publishing Company, In., 106-121.