EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Emergency Preparedness Summary
Cooper County Public Health Center
Emergency Preparedness & Planning March 2007
Information and update
- The CCPHC started officially participating in the Local Emergency Planning Process in 1998. The 1998 Core Public Health Contract required all local public health agencies (LPHA’s) to become active members of their emergency planning community.
- The Cooper County Health Center and the Cooper County 911/EOC have been recognized for their strong working relationship. While many LPHA’s are struggling to be recognized as a member of the planning community, Tom White and the CCPHC have had an established working partnership since 1998.
- Cooper County Emergency plans are all encompassing. This plan is the basic framework for any disaster. Natural or man-made. Planning is fluid and an ever-evolving process. The Public Health portion of the County plan is located within Annex M. Other healthcare providers such as the hospital and coroner also have responsibilities according to their disciplines within Annex M. The Cooper County Health Center is in the lead role for medical planning. This lead role does not allow for the public health department to write plans for other agencies or tell them how to manage their services. Each county and city discipline is responsible for developing their own plan. This plan should be integrated within the County Plan.
- The Cooper County Public Health Center has several internal plans to help meet the goals of the County Plan. We have an all hazards plan, a pandemic flu plan and a plan for setting up a POD- Point of Dispensing of medications or immunizations issued by the Federal Government. All of these plans remain under review for progress and change. Agencies are being asked to plan for scenarios that they do not have any experience in. With every disaster, public health officials meet with public officials from the disaster area to learn what worked and what did not. What to prepare for, that no one ever dreamed of. It is this process that allows for agencies to grow and prepare more realistic plans. Plans do not contain an answer to every question. That is why community planning and sharing is so important.
- Emergency exercises are designed to help promote education, thought provoking questions and to help agencies identify problematic issues in a non-emergency time.
- By practicing and working together it can help promote relationship development and trust, while decreasing anxiety and fear of the unknown. It is much better to make mistakes and learn in practice, rather than in a real crisis where lives are at stake. After every exercise there is an opportunity to share feedback on the exercise. Agencies are expected to take the good with the bad and learn from it.
- All governmental agencies receiving tax dollars (Local, State, & Federal) are required to be a part of the planning process on some level. Emergency planning is a very human process, and with it comes all sorts of emotions. Cooper County is no different than any other county. We have agencies engaged in planning that are participating at different speeds in their educational process. Therefore, we have agencies that are functioning at different levels and belief systems within our community. There are agencies that do not attend meetings because they feel like they do not have enough staff to manage a plan. Some agency leaders remain in denial that anything bad is ever going to happen---- so why plan. Other leaders feel like they just don’t have time to “play”. Dependency upon the system, the proverbial “ someone is going to come rescue us” or “it is someone else’s responsibility to plan or provide” mentality unintentionally hampers the planning process. In some cases members just refuse to work with other members for personal reasons. These are all very human, emotional issues. Each agency needs to perform a self-assessment to see if their agency is doing all it can for the planning process.
- With every disaster occurring around the globe citizens can see the number of people who are in need and unprepared. Time and scarce financial resources are lost due to agency conflicts, lack of communication and failure of the response agencies to use the National Incident Management System.
- County of Cooper has the ability to maximize the success of a well-planned response, to any disaster, if the following occurs:
- Every governmental agency, school, civic group, house of worship, and political group all share the message of preparedness. The majority of physically and mentally capable citizens in the County need to be prepared. Organizations need to keep their own list of special needs members. Citizens need to understand that SEMA and FEMA will be unable to respond immediately in the event of a disaster. If a disaster occurs across the nation, help will be virtually non-existent from FEMA in the early weeks. While FEMA and the National Guard do have resources, those resources will be dispatched to larger metropolitan areas first. Population density is a critical factor in the allocation of scarce resources.
- Three agencies alone cannot be responsible for educating the entire population within the County. We need buy in from all leaders from every walk of life. The County Health Center has the educational tools available from the State of Missouri for free. We need clergy, civic leaders, schoolteachers, fire and law enforcement to stand up and say, “this important.” Since Hurricane Katrina, I have been consistently turned down or politely ignored by leaders. Some occasionally make comments like. “It is the County Government’s responsibility not mine.”
- If the majority of citizens and organizations continue with this dangerous line of thinking, more lives and resources will be lost. The Constitution of the United States was hard earned and many lives were sacrificed for the ability to say “We the people of the United States of America”. In these very unpredictable times our only chance to minimize loss of life and resources will be the uniting of the citizens of Cooper County. This unity will be for the benefit of all the people in Cooper County and our neighbors.
The Cooper County Public Health Center has a list of needs to help improve the planning process. I would like to share this list and invite all citizens and agencies to help participate in completing the activities list.
- Agencies and organizations to host educational sessions to their members on the Ready and Three and the Pandemic Influenza Planning Guides. Citizen cooperation and buy in is critical.
- Upon evaluation of the comments, provided after the Feb 2007 exercise, we believe that we need continuous daily disease surveillance from the following agencies. Daycares, all schools (public and private), nursing homes, and physicians’ offices. We would welcome surveillance from other business or service agencies. (We would like to thank Cooper Co. Memorial Hospital and Pilot Grove School for providing disease surveillance).
- Daily submission of disease surveillance to the Health Center is our only hope of tracking the progress of any developing disease. We need agencies to learn how to perform daily (real time) surveillance in non-emergency times. By building it within our daily routines it will not be such an overwhelming burden during a time of crisis. Remember, disease surveillance is not a diagnosis of an illness. It is the tallying of disease symptoms being reported by individuals.
- We need local cooperation and assistance to help finalize planning in the following areas.
- Signed agreements from volunteer agencies or businesses to provide specific services during a disaster. By having pre-signed contracts for expectations, it will save time and prevent duplication of resources during a disaster. We strongly recommend all other tax-supported agencies responsible for planning follow suit.
- The same tax supported agencies to take steps to initiate planning within their agencies and come to the community planning table with open hearts and minds. What the Cooper County Citizens deserve is tax-supported agencies that lead by example. It is those examples that can help encourage planning all the way down to the individual level. Agencies and citizens who have knowledge and experience have the opportunity to set an example, to become leaders, and full partners in the planning process.
Exercises in Review
- 2007 Emergency Planning Exercises & Classes YTD
- The Department of Health and Senior Services requires the health center to participate in an exercise that is hosted locally, one exercise that is hosted by the Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA). The CCPHD also volunteers to exercise with the entire Region F health department / partners. One of the above exercises must address Pandemic Influenza planning.
On February 29, 2007 the CCPHC hosted a Pandemic Influenza exercise in the rural Boonville area. One hundred and forty seven different individuals and organizations were invited to participate. Thirty-two individuals participated. With each exercise we learn about more local agencies or citizens that should be included in future planning.
Exercise Goals and Objectives
- Facilitate the understanding of the magnitude of the impact a pandemic outbreak would be to our country.
- Discuss requirements and actions that should be considered in response to the pandemic scenario.
- Raise awareness about impact of pandemic influenza on a rural community.
- Increase understanding regarding the responsibilities of all participating agencies.
- Determine whether current plans adequately address-anticipated events.
- Identify gaps in coordination between agencies.
- Promote advance planning between health departments, healthcare, and other agencies.
REGION F Department Situation Room /State Emergency Operation Center EXERCISE
March 21, 2007
Specific Goals and Objectives
- Establish and maintain communications and coordination with SEOC, DSR, and Region F local public health agencies, and test the unified command. Establish and maintain communications through existing communications, land and cell phones, email, the EMS system and the LPHA Emergency Web Page.
- Determine and document the extent, magnitude and public health significance of each event.
- Discuss and evaluate disease containment strategies and proper infection control. Determine, locate, allocate and document public health and medical responses to simulated emergency events, including guidance from the state to local jurisdictions and hospitals. Discussion of interventions should include non-medical strategies such as quarantines.
- Identify strategies for continuation of public health operations.
- The DSR and SEOC will perform briefings during shift changes.
- Develop public information messages including health alerts, advisories, news releases, etc.
- To deal adequately with public needs and maintain public confidence, and to assure coordination of state and local messages.
- THIS EXERCISE IS NOT A TEST OF INDIVIDUALS. Varying viewpoints, even disagreements are expected. However, the DSR Commander is expected to seek input from each DSR member concerning his/her area of responsibility as it relates to the situation or event.
- All responses should be based on current plans and available resources.
- If a situation appears to be the responsibility of another state or federal agency or local agency, the DSR Commander shall take appropriate timely action to direct the issue back to the SEOC to assure the responsible agency receives the information.
The Cooper County Public Health Center views both exercises as positive learning experiences.
Classes- National Incident Management System
In 2006 front line staff members Melanie Hein, Kim Wiemholt and Diane Albin completed ICS training in 700 & 800.
In 2007 Melanie & Kim completed ICS 300 during the month of April. We anticipate the completion of 400 during the month of September.