Sarah Powell is the Project Director for the Center for Preparedness Research, Education, and Practice (CPREP) in Temple University’s Department of Public Health. As a qualitative researcher, public health planner, and the administrative core of the Center, Sarah is primarily concerned with the critical linkages between disaster mental health and public health at the local level. She has managed contracts with local and state partners, including Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Philadelphia Departments of Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Office of Emergency Management.
At present, Sarah is working in collaboration with the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health (DBHIDS) to assist in the development of their internal and city-wide Disaster Behavioral Health Response Plans. As part of ongoing work with DBHIDS, Sarah has been a key player in teh development of a citywide Community Response Teams (CRT), comprised of volunteers from the Behavioral Health provider network, to deliver much needed crisis intervention services for local communities affected by violence and disaster. As part of this initiative, Sarah provides administrative support for team management, delivers training in disaster mental health interventions, response team leadership, personal preparedness, etc. Sarah has also designed and developed 5+ disaster mental health HSEEP compliant functional and tabletop exercises.
In addition, and as part of DBHIDS's support for behavioral health providers, Sarah refined and annually delivers a series of six Business Continuity workshops for administrators and planners. As part of this effort to provide planning support to the provider network, Sarah also offers Family & Personal Preparedness Training for agency staff.
Sarah, in partnership with DBHIDS, was responsible for the development of the Mental Health Subcommittee of the SEPA Regional Task Force. By facilitating communication and collaboration among the state-appointed Mental Health Disaster Coordinators in the Southeast PA region, Sarah has helped raise region-wide awareness of best practices in planning and response. She was co-chair on the subcommittee at various points, and her primary aim in this role has always been to assist in planning for a mental health response on a regional level as well as to work on issues of interoperability across agencies and localities. As part of this activity, Sarah initiated, organized, and facilitated 5 Disaster Behavioral Health regional symposia, as well as functional and tabletop exercises.
Sarah presents locally and nationally on topics pertinent to disaster preparedness and response.