March 2006 Ready to Respond MDH Preparedness Newsletter
In this issue:
- Comments from MDH Emergency Preparedness Director
- Pandemic Flu Updates
- RSS is drilled in St. Cloud
- "Minnesota Responds" gets name change
- New Resources
- Mass Dispensing Sites: A Primer for Volunteers
- Public Health Emergency Training Online Modules
- Do you need a GETS card?
- Standing Together: An Emergency Planning Guide for America's Communities
- TurningPoint releases free toolkit on emergency preparedness
- All Together Now: Team Program Workbook Directory
- National Organization on Disability launches Emergency Preparedness Initiative
- DisabilityInfo.gov offers more information
- HHS Office on Disability website
- Upcoming Events
Comments from MDH Emergency Preparedness Director
Minnesota Department of Health's Emergency Preparedness Director Aggie Leitheiser has named 2006 "The Year of the Response." We will focus our attention on doing what it takes to respond quickly, efficiently and comprehensively to all hazards. We are working on many issues, from plans to exercises, from training to fact sheets that will support response. By the end of 2006, we hope everyone who has a major role in response will be clear about his or her role, and we will have practiced and improved our response to health emergencies.
The improvement plan actions written after Hurricane Katrina/Operation Northern Comfort describe important response activities that we are working on. With pandemic influenza an increasing possibility, we have much to do. Aggie commented, "I'm confident that 2006 will be filled with new challenges, opportunities and successes for all of us."
OEP Vision and Mission Statements
Following brainstorming sessions with the Office of Emergency Preparedness staff and management team, we are announcing Vision and Mission statements for the Office of Emergency Preparedness.
Vision: Ready to respond to health emergencies.
- Collaboration with all our partners: public health, health care, government, business, community organizations and others;
- Service to our co-workers and the people of Minnesota;
- Solving problems through persistence and innovation;
- Accountability to ourselves and our partners;
- Respect for our work and each other; and
- Wide-ranging curiosity, expertise of others, and enjoyment in one's job and the workplace.
Mission of the Office of Emergency Preparedness: To lead efforts to prepare for and manage the response to and recovery from health emergencies in Minnesota.
To accomplish this mission, we will:
- Collaborate with internal and external partners to protect the health of Minnesotans in emergencies;
- Establish baseline response expectations and reporting mechanisms to assure response readiness;
- Measure and evaluate response and recovery effectiveness, identify program gaps, and implement improvement actions;
- Assure capacity to manage communication before, during, and after health emergencies;
- Plan, implement, and manage programs that include training and exercises in order to enhance the efforts of health responders to prevent death and disability in emergencies; and
- Develop and manage systems to support the effective use of MDH staff and health volunteers in emergencies.
Pandemic Flu Updates
This newsletter will provide brief updates and a variety of links that address pandemic influenza issues.
Secretary Leavitt introduces National Pandemic Influenza Plan
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt stated, "One of the most important public health issues our Nation and the world faces is the threat of a global disease outbreak called a pandemic. No one in the world today is fully prepared for a pandemic -- but we are better prepared today than we were yesterday - and we will be better prepared tomorrow than we are today."
"This HHS National Pandemic Influenza Plan provides a blueprint from which to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead of us. Being prepared and responding effectively involves everyone: individuals, communities, businesses, States, Federal agencies, international countries and organizations. Here at home, we can use this Plan to create a seamless preparedness network where we are all working together for the benefit of the American people."
"In the century past, we have experienced influenza pandemics three times: as recently as 1968 and 1957 and what has been called the Great Influenza in 1918, a pandemic that killed 40-50 million people worldwide. At some point in our nation's future another virus will emerge with the potential to create a global disease outbreak. History teaches us that everything we do today to prepare for that eventuality will have many lasting benefits for the future. We will realize important advances in healthcare, and we will be better prepared for other types of emergencies."
"I am humbled by the enormity of the challenge that the global community confronts should there be a pandemic. Public cooperation and global partnerships will be essential tools in fighting back and creating a constant state of readiness. If together we take the steps necessary, we will be able to save the lives of millions of people in our country and all around the world."
For more information see the HHS Pandemic Influenza Plan.
Secretary Leavitt kicks off pandemic flu summits in Minnesota
HHS Secretary Leavitt will visit all 50 states to introduce the National Pandemic Flu Plan and encourage government, health care providers and business to learn more about the potential problems of a pandemic and being prepared.
On Wednesday, December 14, 2005, Secretary Leavitt began his visits by first coming to Minnesota. Many people from state agencies, including the Minnesota Department of Health, helped coordinate that event. Information from the summit includes a Webcast (using Real Player), PowerPoint presentations and additional information and resources.
Progress continues on MDH Pandemic Influenza Plan
Minnesota Department of Health staff have been working on Pandemic Influenza activities since before the year 2000. Currently, staff from several MDH divisions meet every week to write and update The Minnesota Department of Health Pandemic Influenza Plan.
This plan is taking a comprehensive approach and includes sections on these topics:
- Animal Health Coordination/Poultry Workers
- Care of the Deceased
- Clinical issues
- Communicable Disease Control and Prevention
- Epidemiological surveillance
- Healthcare Planning
- Infection Control
- Vaccine and Antivirals
A partner preview for local public health and regional hospital resource coordinators on creating and exercising The Minnesota Department of Health Pandemic Influenza Plan is scheduled for May 3, 2006. Watch for more details. For more information, contact Emily Litt at 651-201-5556 or Kris Ehresmann at 651-201-5507.
MDH Web site links for Pandemic Flu
- Avian H5N1 Influenza
The H5N1 virus has affected hundreds of thousands of birds, and over a hundred humans. Could it become the next pandemic influenza?
- Pandemic Influenza Planning
Not all preparations for pandemic can be done by individuals. Find out what government is doing to prepare, both in Minnesota, the U.S., and the world.
Other pandemic flu Web sites
The official U.S. government Web site about pandemic flu and avian influenza provides information on planning and response activities for governments, individuals and family, business, schools, health care providers and community organizations.
- CDC Resources for Pandemic Flu
The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control Pandemic Influenza site has information on many topics, such as planning checklists, preparing for pandemic influenza, plus information for specific groups, news and highlights, and more.
- CIDRAP Pandemic Influenza
Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota.
RSS is drilled in St. Cloud
In order to test a specific function that is described in a plan, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) held a drill to practice the receipt of pharmaceutical and medical supplies. The Receiving, Staging and Storage (RSS) Sites of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Program was drilled on December 8 and 9, 2005 in St. Cloud, Minnesota.
The SNS includes pharmaceuticals and medical supplies that are pre-positioned to help state and local response personnel in an event that would deplete current supplies. The MDH is responsible for many aspects of the SNS Program in Minnesota, including the RSS sites that are the first receiving point for any SNS assets. These sites are facilities that receive inventory from the federal government, stage materials for shipment to dispensing sites and store the materials. The supplies would then be shipped out to the requesting region to the local mass dispensing site, treatment site or hospital.
Because of the unique structure of the containers that SNS materials can arrive in, MDH asked the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for assistance. The CDC shipped training containers and sent Technical Advisory Response Unit (TARU) individuals to assist with the drill. Here's how the two-day drill worked.
Thursday, December 8:
- MN Duty Officer was informed the Strategic National Stockpile had been activated.
- The Duty Officer contacted the MN State Patrol who met two representatives from the US Marshall Service (USMS) and the SNS Push Pack (the first shipment of SNS supplies).
- The security officials escorted the SNS assets to the Receiving, Staging and Storage training site in St. Cloud.
- The materials were offloaded and organized by the RSS Forward Command Team. The Forward Command Team is from Grand Rapids, MN and includes experts in incident command and logistical response. This highly trained group of individuals worked with the CDC, MDH, USMS, City of St. Cloud Police, Stearns County, and the City of St. Cloud Metro Transit Service.
Friday, December 9:
- The teams practiced packing mock orders of drugs that were packed and staged for delivery to receiving points.
- On both days, all observers, evaluators, and players were bussed to and from the RSS Site, which would happen in a real case scenario.
All objectives written for this drill were met, along with many lessons learned. Many partners were able to observe this drill, such as local and state public health personnel, MN Guard, MN Homeland Security, transportation providers, EMS and fire, and emergency managers.
This RSS drill helped to lay the foundation for future planning and exercising needs of the Minnesota Strategic National Stockpile Receiving, Staging and Storage activities. For more information call Michelle Larson at 651-201-5713.
"Minnesota Responds" gets name change
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently changed the name of the "Minnesota Responds Health Professional Volunteer Registry" to "Minnesota Responds Medical Reserve Corps."
Minnesota Responds is part of a national system of state-based registries that allow health care and public health personnel who may be needed for surge capacity to register and be credentialed before a public health emergency occurs. The MDH Office of Emergency Preparedness operates Minnesota Responds by promoting and assisting local and regional program coordination, and by housing and providing access to a central database of registrants.
The federal Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program is sponsored by the Office of the Surgeon General, and works directly with MRC units across the country. Most of the MRC units in Minnesota are located within county public health departments. They coordinate their enrollment procedures, data systems, and other program operations with the state's Minnesota Responds system.
It is believed this name change will reduce confusion between the two programs and reflect the close connection between the state registry and local units. The name change does not establish any requirements for local or regional Minnesota Responds programs to be registered with the national MRC office.
Mass Dispensing Sites: A Primer for Volunteers
This online training program, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Public Health Preparedness, includes an introduction and three training modules that provide an overview of the general operations and roles of volunteers at a Mass Dispensing Site.
The program includes a multiple choice pre- and post-test. When you have passed the post-test, you will be able to print out a certificate. An additional tool included in this program is a volunteer self-assessment to help you determine what positions you may be best suited to fill at a Mass Dispensing Site. Your Volunteer Coordinator may request that you provide her/him with your completed volunteer self-assessment form and your certificate to be maintained as part of your training record.
Public Health Emergency Training Online Modules
Another project of the University of Minnesota Center for Public Health Preparedness is a series of awareness-level, online modules that cover critical topics related to emergency preparedness.
- Disease Surveillance
- Contact Investigation
- Special Populations
- Disaster Mental Health
- Isolation and Quarantine
- Personal Protective Equipment
Each module is designed to contribute to the achievement of a subset of the Bioterrorism / Emergency Readiness Competencies created by Columbia University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Do you need a GETS card?
During an emergency, the Government Emergency Telecommunications Services (GETS) provides emergency responders priority access when telephone landlines are congested.
- GETS cards are available to staff from federal and state agencies, local public health, hospitals, tribal governments and others who may be called to respond to a public health emergency.
- A GETS card is available only through your organization.
- GETS is accessed through your landline phone with a universal access number. A prompt will direct the entry of your PIN and the destination telephone number. Once you are authenticated as a valid user, your call is identified and receives special treatment.
- The card is provided free of charge. Your organization will be billed for long distance charges only when the card is used.
For agencies or organizations interested in signing up for the GETS program or for additional information, contact the GETS Program Office. MDH employees will need to obtain approval from their supervisors.
The National Communications System also provides these telecommunication services:
- Wireless Priority Service (WPS). WPS is a program for priority cellular network access. For information regarding eligibility and cellular service providers currently offering WPS, go to Wireless Priority Service website
- Telecommunications Service Priority (TSP) provides priority restoration of telecommunications services when service providers' resources are overextended. Organizations with telecommunications services that support either a national security or emergency preparedness mission should have TSP. Go to Telecommunications Service Priority website.
Standing Together: An Emergency Planning Guide for America's Communities
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations issued this guide for small, rural and suburban communities to both prepare for and successfully respond to major local and regional emergencies – whether they be hurricanes, floods, terrorist attacks, major infectious outbreaks, hazardous materials spills, or other catastrophic occurrences.
"The devastation of Hurricane Katrina is an all too recent and stark reminder of the need to anticipate and plan for mass casualty disasters," says Dennis S. O'Leary, M.D., president, Joint Commission. "Communities need to grasp the reality that they may well be largely on their own for several days following a major disaster."
The comprehensive planning guide provides 13 essential steps that local government and public health leaders can use to establish an effective community-based emergency management planning and response process. These steps acknowledge that small communities face a number of significant barriers to emergency readiness, such as uncertainty about who is responsible for planning, how to fund emergency readiness efforts, what exactly constitutes the planning and response processes, and how to coordinate with state and federal emergency management resources.
Also available on the Joint Commission website are additional resources for emergency management planning, including a presentation that highlights the strategies detailed in the planning guide, and the Joint Commission's 2006 standards for emergency management planning for health care facilities.
TurningPoint Releases Free Toolkit on Emergency Preparedness
The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) is offering a newly released Turning Point CD-ROM Toolkit that provides more than 100 public health resources useful for forging the partnerships and creating the infrastructure needed to be prepared for a public health emergency. The Toolkit contains planning tools, publications, links to Web sites, self-assessment questionnaires and more.
All Together Now: Team Program Workbook Directory
(For high-speed connections only.) The Empowerment Institute, a consulting and training organization, created this directory that includes these sections:
- Preparing for energy disruptions
- Preparing for emergencies, natural disasters and terrorism
- Creating a resilient neighborhood
- Program support
National Organization on Disability launches Emergency Preparedness Initiative
In response to last year's historical number of natural disasters and their impact on people with disabilities, the National Organization on Disability is launching an Outreach, Awareness and Education Series to encourage people with disabilities to better prepare themselves for emergencies. The series kicks off with the launch of Emergency Preparedness Initiative's (EPI) Interactive Map of Disability & Emergency Preparedness Resources.
DisabilityInfo.gov offers more information
This Web site provides a range of emergency preparedness information, such as:
- After a Disaster: A Guide for Parents and Teachers
- American Red Cross: Disaster Preparedness for People with Disabilities
- Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) access requirements for public assistance grants
- Assisting people with disabilities in a disaster
You can subscribe to receive updates to this page. Be sure to look at the left column for other topics.
HHS Office on Disability website
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has a website on emergency preparedness for Persons with Disabilities. This site has information on the "Executive Order: Individuals with Disabilities in Emergency Preparedness" and a list of resources.
"Learning from Katrina: Tough Lessons in Preparedness and Emergency Response" A national satellite broadcast and Webcast, sponsored by the North Carolina Institute for Public Health, will be held on Friday March 31, 2006 from 2:00 to 3:00 pm E.T.
Be part of the discussion about tough lessons learned and the experiences of public health leaders and community partners in surviving and responding to a disaster named Katrina.
This program may be viewed at a satellite downlink site or as a Webcast. Online registration, program information and a list of currently available sites are at Public Health Grant Rounds.
America's Health Responders: On the Public Health Frontlines
May 1-4, 2006 in Denver, Colorado
U.S. Public Health Service Professional Conference
The recent Gulf Coast events and concern about a potential influenza pandemic underscore the urgent need to foster cross-governmental leadership, creative thinking and innovative approaches to address both the short-term and the long-term public health challenges facing our nation.
This 3½ day conference will include a panel featuring state and local health directors, with Dr. Kevin Stephens, the New Orleans Health Director; sessions on a wide range of critical issues including future pandemics; food safety; the long-term threat of obesity; disaster response in the wake of Katrina; and more. Surgeon General Richard Carmona will deliver the keynote address. Continuing education credits will be available for a broad array of professions.
Who should attend the conference?
- Commissioned officers of the U.S. Public Health Service
- Civilian federal public health service employees
- Regional, tribal, state and local public health officers
- Public health academicians
- Inactive reservists
- Military health providers
Visit COA USPHS Conference website or call (866) 544-9677 for more information about the conference.
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