As we have been tragically shown, Bioterrorism (BT) has become one of the many public health threats facing our nation. Although the likelihood and extent of future bioterrorist attacks is difficult to predict, the consequences of a successful attack in Warren County could be devastating. Unlike attacks involving conventional or even chemical weapons, which could be readily detected and limited to a specific geographic area, an attack with a biological agent and resulting symptoms of exposed persons could remain undetected for days. The effects of exposure to a biological agent used, as a bio-weapon would be widely scattered and depending on the type of agent, may not be identified immediately as an act of terrorism.
The Warren County Health Department received funding from the New Jersey Department of Health & Senior Services for the establishment of a Bioterrorism Preparedness & Response Program. The Warren County health Department has received funding to increase our critical capacity in the following areas:
- Preparedness & Health Planning
- Surveillance & Epidemiology
- Local Information Network Communications System (LINCS) Health Alert Network
- Information Technology
- Health Education and Risk Communication
WHAT WARREN COUNTY IS DOING TO PREPARE FOR EMERGENCIES
- Exercises and drills.
- Warren County Public Health Emergency Task Force
- Education and Training
- Disease surveillance and outbreak investigation.
- Health Alert Network for notification of public health emergencies.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PREPARE FOR AN EMERGENCY
- Assemble an emergency supply kit for your family and pets (link)
- Create an family emergency communication plan (link)
- Be informed about the various types of public health emergencies and how to respond. (Link)
- Get Trained (link)
- Volunteer (link)
- HEALTH PLANNER
The public health planner is responsible for developing the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Plan (PHERP). Working closely with state, regional and local agencies involved in emergency response, the planner develops detailed written protocols and plans that will ensure a timely and comprehensive response to public health emergencies. Through thorough assessments of local and regional and emergency response capacities, integrated public health emergency response plans are developed that will facilitate coordination of local, state and federal assets establish a process for the management of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) should it need to be deployed.
- SURVEILLANCE & EPIDEMIOLOGY
Rapid detection of a terrorist event is a critical component of the public health system. A comprehensive reportable disease surveillance system has been established in Warren County that can rapidly and effectively investigate and respond to a terrorist event, a naturally occurring individual cases of urgent public health importance, outbreaks of disease and other public health threats. The epidemiologic response plan addresses surge capacity, delivery of mass prophylaxis and immunizations and pre-event development of specific epidemiologic investigation and response needs.
- THE LOCAL INFORMATION NETWORK & COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM (LINCS HEALTH ALERT NETWORK)
The LINCS Coordinator works to establish, expand and ensure effective communications among public health professionals, healthcare organizations, law enforcement agencies, private physicians, school officials, public officials, emergency responders and businesses. Built on electronic communication technology, the LINCS based Community Health Alert and Information Networks (CHAIN) has been developed for community notification of public health events and emergencies. The LINCS ensures a method of emergency communications, the ongoing protection of critical data and information systems and capabilities for continuity of operations and secure electronic exchange of data.
- INFORMATION TECHNOLOLGY
The LINCS Information Technology Specialist (ITS) provides full time information support for the LINCS agency staff, including desktop computer support and use of office productivity programs. The Information Technology Specialist serves as a technical liaison with hospitals, local health agencies and emergency management personnel.
- HEALTH EDUCATION/RISK COMMUNICATION
The Health Educator /Risk Communicator is responsible for ensuring the delivery of appropriate education and training to key public health professionals, infectious disease specialists, emergency department personnel and other healthcare providers in preparedness for and response to bioterrorism and other events. Effective Risk Communication provides needed health/risk information to the public and key partners during a terrorism event by establishing critical baseline information about the current communications needs and barriers, and identifying effective channels of communication for reaching the general public and special populations during public health threats and emergencies.