In this issue:
- Risk Communication Training
- Terrorism And Health Task Force Meeting
- Emergency Preparedness Funding
- Snowball II Exercise
- New HRSA Hospital Preparedness Website
- Anthrax Vaccine
- Response And Recovery
- The CDC Public Response Service
- Environmental Health/Emergency Preparedness
A reminder that MDH Risk Communication Specialist, Buddy Ferguson continues to offer risk communication training in selected locations throughout Minnesota. The training is intended for local public health agency staff, designated emergency spokespersons, administrators, directors, policy planners, clinic coordinators, epidemiologists and other public information staff.
The Commissioner of Heath's Terrorism and Health Task Force is scheduled to meet on May 18, 2004 in the Mississippi room, Snelling Office Park, located at 1645 Energy Park Drive St. Paul, MN 55108 from 1:00-3:30 p.m.
On March 29, 2004 Governor Tim Pawlenty announced that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security awarded $39,267,000 from the State Homeland Security Grant Program for training, equipment, exercises and planning to help Minnesota's first responders better secure their communities.
In addition to the $39 million grant to the state's first responders, The cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul will receive nearly $20 million from The Urban Area Security Initiative. Minneapolis will receive $12 million while St. Paul will get nearly $8 million.
The Department of Public Safety division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management has worked with county and local agencies to develop a strategy for allocating the new funds. The grant money will likely be available to local jurisdictions throughout the state as early as this summer.
From February 17 to 24, 2004 the City of Minneapolis Fire Department conducted the Snowball II exercise to address several key issues in emergency response that were identified from the December 2002 Snowball I tabletop.
Participants requested a format that would reduce the pressure of face-to-face interaction that is typical of an emergency response exercise. The department accomplished this by employing Mission Mode Solutions Corporation. Mission Mode provided an Internet-based communication system that allowed participants to interact with each one another through an electronic command center. Over 400 participants from multiple response agencies used the system during exercise period.
Emergency scenarios played out over several days via situation rooms on the website. Participants were notified of new scenarios and updates by Mission Mode alerts that were broadcast through email, phones, pagers, or whatever notification system the participant preferred. No one was required to leave their office for an extended period of time or meet in a conference room with people that they would not formally meet face to face. While there was no actual on-scene response, the exercise played out in a manner more consistent with a real-life response than would a typical tabletop exercise.
All metropolitan public health departments and several state agencies, including the MDH participated in Snowball II. Public health tested risk communication, epidemiological response, incident command, SNS related activities, mass dispensing, Health Alert Networks and overall coordination between state and local health departments.
The Health Resources Services Administration has launched a new website devoted specifically to the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program.
The Toronto 2003 SARS outbreak resulted in a dramatic effect on the healthcare system. A study done by researchers in Toronto investigated the psychosocial effects associated with working in a hospital environment during the outbreak. The researchers concluded: "Our findings indicate that the SARS outbreak had significant psychosocial effects on hospital staff.” These effects differed with respect to occupation and risk perception. The effect on families and lifestyle was also substantial. These findings highlight the need for interventions to address psychosocial distress and concerns, and to provide support for employees during such crises. The study: Psychosocial effects of SARS on hospital staff: survey of a large tertiary care institution.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration produced a SARS Fact Sheet (PDF: 2 pages). The fact sheet discusses basic information about SARS including; transmission, diagnosis and treatment. In addition, OSHA focuses on workplace policies and procedures, and protective equipment for healthcare facilities. For more information about the fact sheet contact the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA.
From: March 12, 2004 DHHS Press Release
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS) has requested proposals from the vaccine industry for the development, testing and manufacture of a new anthrax vaccine.
HHS intends to acquire up to 75 million doses of the recombinant protective antigen (rPA) anthrax vaccine for the Strategic National Stockpile. The vaccine would be used to protect the public against a terrorist attack in which anthrax spores are released.The new rPA anthrax vaccine has already been shown to be stronger and more effective than the vaccine being used today. It will require fewer doses per individual to provide immunity against the effects of anthrax inhalation.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security now has facts sheets and information resources available on various response and recovery topics.
- Fact Sheet: National Incident Management System (NIMS)
- Fact Sheet: Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program
- The Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP)
- Strategic National Stockpile
- Nuclear Incident Response
The CDC Public Response Service is a free hotline and E-mail response service established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and operated by the American Social Health Association. The service is a source of free information about emerging public health issues, and information about biological, chemical, and nuclear terrorism.
The CDC Public Response Service responds to questions on infectious diseases, occupational and environmental health, chronic disease prevention and health promotion. Services are provided for the general public, students, healthcare professionals, public health professionals and emergency response teams.
The following information pertains to environmental health and emergency preparedness from the monthly "EHxchange" listserv."
A. Training Opportunities
- U of MN School of Public Health Centers for Public Health Education and Outreach "Homeland Security" June 17-18, 2004
612-626-4515, also offers 4-hour MIMS training courses. Attention: Non-MDH link
- 2004 SATELLITE-BASED DISTANCE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
- April 15, 2004 8-9- a.m. Emergency and Risk Communication, Speaker: Barbara Reynolds, CDC
B. Environmental Emergency Preparedness
- Food Safety:
Chalk, P. Hitting America's Soft Underbelly The Potential Threat of Deliberate Biological Attacks Against the U.S. Agricultural and Food Industry (PDF: 65 pages)
- Vector Control
"Rat Tales" New York Times, February 22, 2004, Robert Sullivan
New York City was trapping rats for two reasons. First, the health department wanted an indication of how well its rodent-control measures were working; Concerns about biological terrorism led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reach out to the New York health department to help study rat populations in preparation for a potential release of plague bacteria.
- Apparently intentional water poisoning
- Important Source: The Oak Ridge National Lab Emergency Mgmt Center
- Emergency Management Center Publications
Reports include shelter in place questions and answers, and info on decontaminating buildings and people, among other items.
C. Personal Protection Equipment:
- April 14, 2003, Respirator Fact Sheet:
What You Should Know In Deciding Whether To Buy Escape Hoods, Gas Masks, Or Other Respirators For Preparedness At Home And Work
- On Feb. 26, 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) adopted, as DHS standards, three NIOSH criteria for testing and certifying respirators for protection against chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) exposures."
- "Feds Approve Mine Safety Mask for Chemical, Biological Agents"
Pittsburgh Post Gazette, March 13, 2004, Charles Sheehan
"The first gas mask intended to protect (civilian) emergency personnel from chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents was approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health yesterday...."