Every society is exposed periodically to catastrophes and public health emergencies that are broad in scale. Too often, these experiences reveal major deficits in the quality of emergency response. A critical barrier to achieving preparedness for high-quality, system-based emergency response is the absence of a universal framework and common language to guide the pursuit of that goal. We describe a simple but comprehensive framework to encourage a focused conversation to improve preparedness for the benefit of individuals, families, organizations, communities, and society as a whole. We propose that constructs associated with the well-known expression “ready, willing, and able” represent necessary and sufficient elements for a standardized approach to ensure high-quality emergency response across the disparate entities that make up the public health emergency preparedness system. The “ready, willing, and able” constructs are described and specific applications are offered to illustrate the broad applicability and heuristic value of the model. Finally, prospective steps are outlined for initiating and advancing a dialogue that may directly lead to or inform already existing efforts to develop quality standards, measures, guidance, and (potentially) a national accreditation program.
(Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2010;4:161-168)