In this issue:
- CDC Public Health Preparedness Focus Area Summaries
- Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program
- Proposed Project Would Use Public Television To Reach Limited-English Audiences In Emergencies
- Basic Emergency Lifesaving Skills for Schools
- October 2003: Environmental Health and Emergency Preparedness Update
- MDH Public Health Library
- Government Accounting Office Report: Bioterrorism: Public Health Response to Anthrax Incidents of 2001
- MDH Public Health Lab: Role in Nuclear Power Plant Emergencies
- Monticello Nuclear Power Plant Drill:
- Otter Tail County Functional Exercise
- Commissioner's Terrorism and Health Task Force
The Minnesota Department of Health has received Year 2004 funding for Public Health Preparedness and Response for Bioterrorism from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These summaries briefly describe the Minnesota Department of Health's proposed activities and responsibilities for the following:
- Focus Area A: Preparedness Planning and Readiness Assessment
- Focus Area B: Surveillance and Epidemiology Capacity
- Focus Area C: Laboratory Capacity – Biologic Agents
- Focus Area D: Laboratory Capacity – Chemical Agents
- Focus Area E: Health Alert Network / Communications and Information Technology
- Focus Area F: Risk Communication and Health Information Dissemination
- Focus Area G: Education and Training
- CDC and HRSA Cross Cutting Activities
An Executive Summary of the Minnesota Hospital Bioterrorism Preparedness Program funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is now available at http://www.health.state.mn.us/oep/funding/2003_hospitalgrant.htm . The Executive Summary provides a brief description of the priority areas for Minnesota's program.
Partners sought to provide funding
One of the most significant emergency preparedness challenges facing Minnesota – and other states – is finding ways to communicate emergency health information to people with limited English skills. Over the last few years, Minnesota has become the home of a rich tapestry of immigrant and refugee communities, with different languages and cultures.
Providing critical information to those populations, in an emergency, will not be an easy task. However, over the past six months, a coalition of local public health agencies and community groups in the Twin Cities has been working on an innovative strategy for doing that job. The proposed strategy would use a statewide network of local public television stations to reach these ethnically diverse groups, through a series of monthly broadcasts on health and emergency preparedness topics. Programming for the project will be produced in cooperation with Twin Cities Public Television (TPT)
Initially, the monthly broadcasts will be two hours in length, and will include 20-minute segments in each of six different languages – Hmong, Khmer, Lao, Somali, Spanish and Vietnamese. Each broadcast will focus on a particular theme or issue, using culturally appropriate messages to reach the intended audience for each language.
In addition to viewing the programs on public television, audiences will be able to view or listen to the each month's program online, using a server and bandwidth provided by TPT. Discussions are also underway to have the audio from each television broadcast carried statewide on radio stations affiliated with the Association of Minnesota Public/Educational Radio Stations (AMPERS).
As part of the package, public television stations will also be available to provide critical messages and information to non-English speakers during a crisis or emergency. A major goal of the project is to “brand” public television as a reliable source of emergency information for people with limited English – so it will be seen as the “place to go” for information during an emergency.
The project is being organized through the Emergency and Community Health Outreach (ECHO) collaborative. The membership of ECHO includes the Minnesota Department of Health, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, a number of local public health agencies from the metro area, private voluntary sector organizations, and leaders from the cultural communities that will be served by this project.
While the initial impetus has come from the metro area, the media vehicles being used for the project are capable of reaching a statewide audience. The participating public television stations are capable of reaching 95 percent of the state's population – and the radio stations that make up AMPERS have a similar reach.
ECHO and its partners are currently looking for funding to make the project happen. Just under $150,000 is needed to cover production expenses – and the cost of translating messages – for one year's worth of programs. MDH has already committed $50,000 in federal bioterrorism grant funds, and local public health agencies in the Twin Cities have agreed to provide an additional $50,000.
Additional partners are needed to cover the balance. Local public health agencies in greater Minnesota – as well as other potential partners – are currently being invited to become part of the project.
The following web link provided by the Hospital Resources and Services Administration
- Basic Emergency Lifesaving Skills in Schools: BELSS provides information about the BELSS program.
BELSS workshops are intended for school nurses, health teachers, physical education teachers, elementary teachers, health service directors, safety/security directors, social workers, EMS personnel, and all those responsible for teaching safety, first aid, CPR and AED and emergency preparedness to school district youth and staff.
Listed below are some past and upcoming satellites broadcast video conferences. For broadcasts that have already occurred, MDH maintains copies in the MDH library for free loan in-state following the event.
- October 16, 2003 8:00-9:00 a.m.
Replenishing the Well: Self-Renewal for Public Health Workers Speaker: Robert Veninga, PhD, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, and co-author of The Work/Stress Connection: How To Cope With Job Burnout
Learn how to skillfully and creatively manage occupational stress, and practical strategies for avoiding burnout. Managers will be given strategies for building high morale in an era of rapid change.
- November 13, 2003, 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
"Chemical Terrorism Preparedness: National and Minnesota Perspectives” A Statewide Video conference. On-line registration, site identification and handouts are now available from the MDH Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Target audiences include clinical laboratorians, local public health professionals, county boards and elected officials, state and local emergency managers, law enforcement, fire, and emergency/first responders. This event includes the opportunity to learn from national experts in the morning, and local experts in the afternoon.
- Archived Training Programs
The video series: Biological and Chemical Warfare and Terrorism: Advance Topics on Medical Defense Against Biological and Chemical Agents . These have been recorded from previous US AMRID broadcasts, and are clinical and military in nature.
MDH's Environmental Health Division also has a separate listserv that includes items of interest to local public health. One of these items is a monthly listing of articles to support a literature review on terrorism and environmental health.
Just reminder, the MDH Library has a collection of resource material available to public health professionals.
- Hot Topics In Public Health
Search the current journal literature on many different topics, including emergency preparedness in a single click! Every time you check back, new articles on your subject are added.
- Library Pick of the Week
Every week, MDH Library staff picks out a resource to highlight. This could be a journal article, a video, a book, or a web site.
The General Accounting Office (GAO) released a report:
Bioterrorism: Public Health Response to Anthrax Incidents of 2001(PDF). GAO-04-152, October 15. The report is a lessons learned analysis of the U.S. public health system's response to the 2001 anthrax attacks. Go to Public Health Response to Anthrax Incidents of 2001: one-page summary (PDF) of the report highlights.
Printed copies of any of these items are available from GAO's Document Distribution Center, 202-512-6000.
Role in Nuclear Power Plant Emergencies
The MDH Public Health Laboratory has maintained a nuclear power plant emergency response team since 1971, when Minnesota's first nuclear power plant began operating at Monticello. In an emergency, the Public Health Laboratory would analyze field samples collected by other state agencies. During the early phases of an emergency, the test results would be used primarily to track radiological plumes and estimate ground depositions. During the latter phases of an emergency, the laboratory results would be used to identify areas and agricultural products contaminated by the fallout.
Approximately 20 members of the MDH Public Health Laboratory Division volunteer to be a member of the MDH Nuclear Power Plant Laboratory Emergency Response Team. The team members rotate the 24/7 on-call assignments so that the Department can be ready to receive field samples within a one-hour notification. The response team participates in annual refresher coursework, hands-on practicums in receiving, analyzing, and reporting results for mock samples from the field teams, and drills that are evaluated by the MN Department of Public Safety. Every few years, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) evaluates the laboratory emergency response team. FEMA auditors will be conducting an on-site evaluation on November 17, 2003.
Various federal agencies can send mobile laboratories to assist states with the response to a large nuclear power plant release. Federal agencies intend to be able to deploy this service in the Twin Cities within 48-72 hours after an actual event. The MDH is eager to tour federal mobile labs on November 19, 2003 to help evaluate the federal capacity to assist in this response.
Second Phase-Ingestion Pathway
On October 9, 2003 the State of Minnesota conducted the second phase of the Monticello Nuclear Power Plant drill referred to as the ingestion pathway exercise. This phase is practiced once every few years for each nuclear power plant in Minnesota. The primary focus of the exercise is to assist individuals in the affected counties return to their communities, homes and businesses. It also involves the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources because of the potential impact to agricultural products and wild life.
Staff from the MDH Environmental Health Division, and the MDH Communication office exercised their response plan roles at the State Emergency Operations Center. In addition, representatives from the risk and ingestion pathway counties also observed the response procedures first hand.
Following the exercise, many issues were raised and discussed by the various state agency participants. In response, new emergency procedures will either be developed or adjusted prior to the federally observed exercise in November.
Otter Tail County recently sponsored a 16-hour functional, tabletop exercise attended by 65 people. The county contracted with the Abbottville Simulator Program available through Command School, Inc. to conduct the exercise. The program is devoted to teaching participants the incident command system. The following link provides more information about Abbottville Simulator program. http://www.commandschool.com/cs2003/abbottville.htm
Abbottville consists of over 400 buildings that can be adapted to any location. Otter Tail County adapted Abbottville to their local setting. During the exercise emergency equipment is dispatched, hand held radios are used for communication, and small scale props are used for scenarios. Background sounds of fire, wind, sirens, chainsaws, and anguished victims are used to give a more realistic feel to the exercise. Participants open a command post and an emergency operations center, and wear vests to simulate their role in the incident command system.
In the Otter Tail County functional exercise participants responded to a simple house fire, train derailments with a chemical spill, bombs/gunfire at a school, a tornado, a sarin gas release at a WalMart, and a broken vial of Ricin in a federal building.
The Federal Office of Homeland Security Training grant funded the training. For more information about the Abbottville Simulator Program, contact www.commandschool.com or call 1-866-238-6688.
The Commissioner's Terrorism and Health Task Force met on October 21, 2003. MDH Commissioner , Dianne Mandernach provided members with a review of her testimony about Minnesota's SARS preparedness plans for SARS at a hearing sponsored by Senator Norm Coleman 's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations . In addition, Richard Danila, Assistant State Epidemiologist, presented the t T ask f F orce with information about the SARS threat and how the state is preparing for a response.
Task Force members also provided feedback on the draft Health Emergency Preparedness vision statement and the Task Force mission draft mission statement for the Task Force .
The next Task Force meeting is from 1:00 – 4:00 pm on January 22, 2004 at the Snelling Office Park in St. Paul.