May 30, 2003
In this issue:
- Updated National Threat Level
- Isolation and Quarantine
- SNS Update - Ginny Baresch / SNS Coordinator
- MMRS Emergency Disaster Drill
- Personal Protection Equipment - Technical Assistance
- Emergency Preparedness for People With Disabilities
- Planning Resources: Emergency Preparedness For Schools
- Video now available: Incident Management System for Public Health Professionals and their Communities
- Syndromic Surveillance Workshop
- Commissioner's Terrorism and Health Task Force
The OEP was just notified that the national threat level was lowered to yellow. Given that the national threat level has changed several times in the last few weeks we are providing all of you with a reliable weblink that receives updates on the national threat level. The weblink listed below from The Emergency Email & Wireless Network is a site that will keep all of you informed on the immediate changes of the current threat level.
You may also check the national threat level by visiting the White House Homeland Security web page.
In the wake of the current threat from Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), President Bush added SARS to the list of diseases that permit SARS infected individuals to be quarantined. The President's actions triggered many questions related to federal quarantine authority. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) responded to these inquiries by producing a SARS Fact Sheet (Questions and Answers on Legal Authorities for Isolation and Quarantine (PDF: 2 pages)) that addresses questions about quarantine legal authority.
Isolation and quarantine procedures also are addressed in the Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act (PDF: 8 pages). To access an update of a summary report from the 2002 Session of the Minnesota Legislature, go to page six of the House Research report.
You may have known the SNS - Strategic National Stockpile program by its former name the NPS - National Pharmaceutical Stockpile. Apparently the new name provides an improved and more accurate description of the current program. In reality, the stockpile contains a wide variety of medical supplies as well as pharmaceuticals.
The SNS is a federal program now located within the Office of Homeland Security. It consists of pre-positioned stockpiles intended to aid state/local emergency response authorities whose jurisdiction becomes the target of terrorism or a major event. In fact, the stockpile was supplemented recently with an additional 3,000 ventilators due to the threat from SARS.
The program will require intensive planning over the next year and includes the following components.
Activities before the SNS arrives
Command and Control
Request of the SNS
Receipt, stage and store (RSS)
This work will require a strong partnership between many agencies and organizations throughout the state. I was fortunate to spend the first three days on the job as an observer with Dave Haberman, MDH/OEP Project Analyst at a full-scale exercise of the SNS in Iowa. Systems tested were the Joint Emergency Operations Center, Iowa Dept of Health Emergency Operations Center, deployment of the SNS and county dispensing sites.
On May 3, 2003, the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) conducted one of the largest full-scale exercises in state history. The drill, which was conducted at the State Fairgrounds, involved a weapon of mass destruction explosion with a chemical release. More than 300 people participated, including personnel from emergency management, fire, Emergency Medical Services, hospitals, aid agencies, local and state public health, military, and law enforcement -- as well as volunteers who played "victims".
The exercise allowed MDH to test some aspects of its emergency response systems, including: notification procedures, communication systems, lab functions, and the call-up of technical staff. Without a doubt, problems with communications and coordinated information sharing presented the greatest difficulties. Nevertheless, lessons learned will be valuable as MDH proceeds to develop strategies for responding to both overt, as well as unannounced, chemical attacks.
Additional information about emergencies involving the release of hazardous chemical materials can be found at the MDH, Environmental Health Division Chemical Emergencies.
The long awaited PPE technical assistance information is ready!
The posted articles and supply lists will assist you in your planning. They are NOT lists of equipment that MDH recommends any hospital purchase.
The posted information includes the following:
a primer on issues and equipment needs for hospitals;
a sample chart of medical/surgical supplies and PPE equipment by disaster type and category of emergency services;
standardized equipment lists; and
two articles that address PPE selection and training issues.
The Red Cross produced a manual, Disaster Preparedness for People With Disabilities. The manual is designed to help people who have physical, visual, auditory, or cognitive disabilities to prepare for natural disasters and their consequences.
Anyone who has a disability or anyone who works with, lives with, or assists a person with a disability can use this booklet. It contains information that can help you organize a personal disaster plan and includes plans for the care of service animals and/or pets during a disaster.
The following resources are available online.
Practical Information on Crisis Planning: A Guide for Schools and Communities. The U.S. Department of Education has developed a guide to provide schools and communities with basic guidelines and useful ideas on how to develop emergency response and crisis management plans.
School Emergency Response and Crisis Management Plan Discretionary Grant Program. The U.S. Department of Education announces a discretionary grant competition to provide school districts with funds to strengthen and improve current school crisis plans.
Campus Public Safety: Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism Protective Measures. The Office for Domestic Preparedness, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, has published a series of suggestions to guide and inform public safety planning efforts to prevent, deter or effectively respond to weapons of mass destruction terrorist attack on college campuses.
The CDC and the U.S. Department of Education Collaborate to Help Schools Prepare for Possible Terrorism. This web cast provides state and local education, health, emergency management, law enforcement and homeland security agencies with updated information on biological, chemical, and radiological threats; answers questions about school preparedness and response; and describes the roles of partnering agencies in the case of a terrorist threat.
Video now available: Incident Management System for Public Health Professionals and their Communities
A Satellite Broadcast Sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Health, April 23, 2003
MDH had an excellent turnout for the incident management satellite conference on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 with over 257 people, who pre-registered and a large number who registered on the day of the conference. The Office of Emergency Preparedness sponsored the satellite broadcast for local public health agencies, hospitals, emergency responders and other key organizations.
MDH extends a special thanks to the 51 people who hosted a satellite conference site! Videotapes of the three-hour broadcast are now available for loan or you may have your own copy at no charge. If you:
Will use the video just one or two times, MDH prefers that you borrow a copy from the MDH library because of a limited supply. To request a copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may keep the video for up to three weeks.
Will use the video for training, you will need the handouts. You can get continuing education credits as long as you fax or mail the evaluation form.
Several members of the MDH Bioterrorism Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit presented a summary of current traditional and syndromic surveillance activities at the CDC's Advancements in Surveillance and Epidemiology Workshop on April 28 through 30. This workshop was attended by all states and territories currently receiving funding through Focus Area B of the CDC Bioterrorism Grant and provided an opportunity to share experiences and discuss issues surrounding disease reporting, emergency capacity, and the development of syndromic surveillance systems. Minnesota received praise from its peers for its traditional disease surveillance methods as well as advancements in the area of syndromic surveillance.
On April 21, 2003 MDH convened the Commissioner's Terrorism and Health Task Force. Aggie Leitheiser, MDH Assistant Commissioner Health Protection Bureau, opened the meeting by discussing issues pertaining to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, smallpox, and chemical response planning.
The three task force subgroups on workforce, mental health, and the hospital preparedness provided brief updates to the task force. The Mental Health subgroup completed its work in April. Candy Kragthorpe, MDH Mental Health Programs Coordinator, presented two products from the group. One was a report of recommendations for local public health on how to prepare and respond to the mental health aspects of a health emergency. The second is an organizational strategies grid that assigns the roles and responsibilities to local, state, federal and non-governmental agencies plan for and respond to mental health emergencies.
MDH also discussed the current application process for public health emergency preparedness funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources and Services Administration.