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Center for Law and the Public’s Health

Effect of Variations in State Emergency Preparedness Laws on the Public Health Workforce’s Willingness to Respond in Emergencies

This project assesses whether state laws influence the public health workforce’s willingness to respond (WTR) in emergencies. The project’s aims are: 1) Identify and classify variations in emergency response laws in the 50 U.S. states; 2) Assess the association between specific state emergency preparedness laws and WTR during emergencies among the public health workforce (including health department staff and emergency medical services (EMS) workers); and 3) Assess whether public health workers believe that particular future legal protections would enhance their WTR during emergencies. Support for this research is provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


Rutkow L, Vernick JS, Gakh M, et al. The public health workforce and willingness to respond to emergencies: a 50-state analysis of potentially influential laws. J Law Med Ethics. 2014;42(1):64-71.

Rutkow L, Vernick JS, Thompson CB, et al. Emergency preparedness law and willingness to respond in the EMS workforce. Prehosp Disaster Med. 2014;29(4):1-6.

Rutkow L, Vernick JS, Thompson CB, Hudson R, Barnett DJ. Local health department workers, public policy, and willingness to respond to emergencies. Am J Disaster Med. 2015;10(1):41-50.

Rutkow L, Vernick JS, Thompson CB, Piltch-Loeb R, Barnett DJ. Legal protections to promote response willingness among the local public health workforce. Disaster Med Public Health Prep. 2015;9(2):98-102.

Translational Tools:

EMS Workers, Law, and Public Health Systems
Law, Emergencies, and the Public Health System
Research about Emergency Response Willingness

Additional Project Materials:

Legal Research Protocol
Legal Research Codebook
Legal Research Data Set

Additional Project Information:

Natural Experiments on the Public Health System: Q&A with Lainie Rutkow
Public Health and the Power of Law

design element