Vermont Forecasts Public Health Emergency Staffing Needs With Help of AHRQ Computer Model

August 2006

The Vermont Department of Health relied on an AHRQ computer model to help forecast public health staffing needs in the event of a major public health emergency.

The AHRQ tool, called the Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak Response Model (BERM), helps health officials predict the number and type of staff needed to dispense drugs and triage patients after a bioterrorism attack or during a disease epidemic. The model was developed by Nathaniel Hupert, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Public Health and Medicine at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Kristin Sprague,MS RN, Public Health Nursing Specialist at the Vermont Department of Health, says the online tool helped calculate staffing needs at an estimated 50 clinics that would be operational in the event of a statewide emergency.

"We know the community population that would use the individual clinics," Sprague says. "And using the BERM model, we'll be able to estimate how many volunteers we'll need."

Sprague says Vermont would need "thousands" of workers in a public health emergency. The AHRQ tool helps estimate requirements for numerous staff categories, including nurses, pharmacists, Emergency medical services (EMS) personnel, doctors, clinic greeters, security guards, and traffic monitors. The BERM tool also helps health officials estimate how much extra time would be needed to treat special populations, such as children, non-English speakers, and people with disabilities.

The BERM tool is available on the AHRQ Web site:

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
Multi-Center-06-02 (CDOM, CP3)
AHRQ Product(s): Research
Topics(s): Emergency Preparedness
Geographic Location: Vermont
Implementer: State of Vermont
Date: 08/01/2006

Computer Staffing Model for Bioterrorism Response. BERM Version 2.0. September 2005. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.

Page last reviewed October 2014