Index > Public Health & Medical: Best Practices
February 11, 2011: With the global climate shifting, national, state and local governments and communities are beginning to feel the effects of catastrophic weather (Australia's flooding and the rise of global food prices). In 2009, the University of Oregon released a study looking at the cost of environmental change to the communities in state of Washington. The report found that "If nothing is done to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Washington is likely to experience some $3.8 billion in associated annual costs -- including $1.3 billion in health related costs alone."
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February 11, 2011: Early last year, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley announced new plans for a state-run program which helps policy makers and citizens accurately measure Maryland's standard of living. The Genuine Progress Indicator, an online tool, uses the health of the environment and society as indicators with traditional economic calculations to find an overall grade. "Just as the elements of our natural world must be balanced to ensure a healthy ecosystem," O'Mally said, "so too must be the elements of how we judge our success as a State. A strong economy, a clean environment and a healthy citizenry go hand in hand; none can be a true measure of success without supporting the other two."
July 29 '08: A Congressionally-mandated study, funded by the Federal Transit Administration and compiled by the Transportation Research Board has looked at the role of mass transportation before, during and after an emergency. Writers of the report said the study's aim was "to explore the capacity of transit systems serving ... locations in times of emergency."
July 22 '08: In a press release from the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal government announced a new report which examines the health, settlement dynamics and impacts of climate change on communities in the United States - broken down into regions. The report covers areas ranging from population redistribution to local, state, regional and national disaster recovery in the face of increasingly severe weather. Many of the findings suggest increased economic, infrastructural, and societal pressures.
July 11 '08: A new partnership among medical industry stakeholders, federal health agencies and nonprofit organizations have developed the Rx Response program which seeks to continue delivering medicines to patients on the regional, state and local levels during an emergency. The partnership works by partnering with biotechnology manufacturing and distribution companies as well as hospitals and community-located pharmacies to help solve supply chain problems caused by natural or man-made disasters.
July 1 '08: In Japan, architect Shuhei Endo has been working on fusing disaster response and recovery capabilities into the design to stadiums, Architectural Record reported in the June 2008 edition. Endo's design incorporates curved lines and open spaces to maximize the space available for large response operations to move into an area also used by sports teams, AR reviewed. Local communities in the US such as Charleston, S.C. have been using stadiums to house displaced people after disasters. Similar uses have been put into place during Hurricane Katrina and during the Southern California wildfires in 2007.
June 4 '08: In New York City, the New York Times reported a new federal grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration which will fund "a team of medical experts and bioethicists ... looking to expand the city's donor pool by deploying a 'rapid organ-recovery ambulance' to collect and preserve the organs of people who die of cardiac arrest." If successful, the new program could add as many as 22,000 people to the nation's donor pool.
May 20 '08: Wired's blog reported Google's announcement of its online personal health information service Google Health. The Associated Press reported that the service seeks to give "users instant electronic access to their health histories ... the service lets users link information from a handful of pharmacies and care providers."
May 08 '08: According to the New York Times a partnership of telecomm and technology companies have announced a new nationwide wireless Internet network which will provide high-speed data accessibility for laptops and mobile phones using the WiMax platform. The Associated Press reported that network will come after the merger of Sprint/Nextel and Clearwire.
April 30 '08: Members of US and Mexican federal, state and local emergency response agencies and government officials have announced a partnership targeting cross-border disaster preparedness training and response. The disaster training is conducted through the US-Mexiao Border 2012 Program which has joined multiple US and Mexican federal agencies together.
April 14 '08: In a press release, a new wireless radio network for first responders in the City of San Jose was announced by Harris Stratex. The new $9.1 million radio network will integrate emergency response communications for the city interoperably among fire, police, EMS and other agencies and it will be available for 31 agencies in the Santa Clara County area.
April 9 '08: In a press release, Baxter Healthcare announced a series of new grants targeting communities in crisis in the US and globally. The donations, totaling $53 million are "focused on increasing access to healthcare, helping developing nations and countries in crisis, and addressing another critical community needs."
March 27 '08: National Public Radio reported on one Colorado town's water emergency after medical officials found the drinking supply to be contaminated with salmonella bacteria. Alamosa City officials are now responding to the emergency by flushing pipes with chlorine the Los Angeles Times reported. Officials said that it might take weeks to clean the water.
March 26 '08: Innovative Biosensors has announced a new bio-monitoring technology partnership with Universal Detection Technology to develop a new early-warning monitoring which will "protect people from bioterrorism and other infectious health threats," a press release reported.
March 24 '08: In a press release the American Chemistry Council's Chemical Information Technology Center (ChemITC) said it had "facilitated the participation of 10 chemical companies" during the Cyber Storm II cyber security response drill. According to officials, the industry IT group helped to coordinate existing response and recovery plans as well as technology resiliency communications processes.
March 24 '08: The Star Bulletin reported a partnership of 12 hospitals across Hawaii which participated in a mock bioterror response drill. The exercise, conducted in partnership by the state's Department of Health and the Healthcare Association of Hawaii simulated exposure to anthrax and was meant to simulate the activation of the Strategic National Stockpile, a press release read. (Additional reading here, and here.)
March 19 '08: The Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota (CIDRAP), reported that a recent pandemic response exercise conducted by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta was the fourth in a series of similar exercises begun in January 2007.
March 14 '08: The medical technology provider Welch Allyn announced recently it had developed a new wireless bedside data solution to transfer electronic medical records to a central database a press release announced. The new solution allows medical personnel to transfer records remotely and quickly and gives other personnel immediate access to that information.
March 7 '08: A new water-cleaning technology has been developed by the Vestergaard Frandsen Group, Scientific American reported. The LifeStraw is about the size of a regular straw and has the capability to kill nearly 100 percent of all bacteria and viruses using a halogenated resin.
March 3 '08: Washington Technology reported that L-3 subsidiary MPRI Inc. will partner with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help train federal agency "with preparedness training and simulation exercises to cope with a wide range of hazards, including acts of bioterrorism and pandemic outbreaks," WashTech reported.
February 27 '08: The Miami Herald reported that a major power outage which hit Southern Florida "disrupted life in nearly every imaginable way," after what the Sun-Sentinel reported was a nuclear power plant shutdown which triggered a chain reaction that left more than 1 million people without power.
February 22 '08: A new nanotechnology application which coasts pure silica with an active material could be used to purify water, Nanowerk reported according to a new report out in the recent International Journal of Nanotechnology.
February 21 '08: The Associated Press reported that Google has partnered with the Cleveland Clinic in a pilot project to create a patients' medical records profile which can be accessed online by doctors looking to view persons' medical history.
February 21 '08: Reuters reported that a new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that many states in the are more prepared for a public health emergency or biological attack "but still lacked trained staff and specialized facilities."
February 14 '08: Georgia Tech has partnered with Austin, Texas-based company Stellar Micro Devices to develop a new anthrax-killing technology which is able to effectively kill the spores in hours, as opposed to the 26 months is took to clean the Brentwood postal facility outside of Washington D.C. in 2001 at a total coast of $130 million, a GATech news story reported.
February 13 '08: Several community-based avian flu pandemic preparedness sites have partnered to form a new family-targeted avian pandemic preparedness website called GetPandemicReady.org. The GetPandemicReady site was begun by the Get Pandemic Ready Team (GPR Team) and the website is hosted byNez Perce County in Idaho.
February 7 '08: In the Kansas City Star Deborah Smithey, the President of the Missouri Midwives Association said that communities should incorporate midwives into local emergency response plans because of their specific training "in homes and out-of-hospital settings."
February 6 '08: On its official blog, Google has announced a series of five initiatives, including one that will locate and respond to areas around the globe where infectious disease and pandemic have arisen. The Predict and Prevent program will work to pinpoint locations of disease as well as identify resources, manpower, information and data which can respond, mitigate current or prevent additional outbreaks.
February 4 '08: A press release from December '07 announced a new partnership between UTC Power and Windham Community Memorial Hospital in Windham, Connecticut to install an "ultra clean, on-site power, cooling and heating" system which can operate at 90 percent efficiency.
January 31 '08: A collaborative project is practicing professional health care providers in South Carolina "for bioterrorism and public health emergency event recognition and response." The group is called the Disaster Preparedness and Response Training Network and it is funded through a $3.5 million federal grant from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services.
January 23 '08: The Department of Homeland Security has launched a new resource website called the National Resource Framework Resource Center. The website's goal is to allow for emergency management officials, community organizations, religious organizations and public officials to come together and share best practices and ideas as well as find solutions to some of their preparedness and response questions.
January 11 '08: Vocera Communications has built a wireless communications device which uses WiFi, VoIP and speech recognition to connect doctors, nurses and EMS personnel working in hospitals. The technology operates over a wireless LAN (802.11) and is controlled by a small talking device which can be worn on the sleeve of scrubs or a jacket.
December 13 '07: In a press release, the Culpeper Regional Hospital in Virginia has announced the deployment of a visual imaging and information-shairng technology designed to help medical and health officials prepare for pandemic diseases and biological terrorism.
November 12 '07: NetworkWorld reported last week that NASA has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to help track and monitor the spread of diseases using a network of 14 orbital satellites. Through the Applied Sciences Program "data [are] collected daily to monitor environmental changes. That information is then passed on to agencies," like the CDC.
October 4 '07: Every day, the Department of Homeland Security sends out an open-source, non-classified security update detailing news and media stories on infrastructure, homeland security issues and other relevant information. On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that an error in the system caused a "reply-all" email caused a cascade of more than 2.2 million email messages which flooded the servers of the email recipients on the list.
October 3 '07: According to Agence France-Presse, a new report from the Pediatrics journal has found that in a disaster the most vulnerable population will be the children.
September 25 '07: Using new research originally developed to help find new ways of producing human stem cells, one researcher at the University of Georgia has announced a new way to detect chemical agents in the field. The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that researcher Steve Stice said his neural cell research could "create a portable chemical weapons detection system that could be used for homeland security."
September 24 '07:The New York Academy of Medicine's Redefining Readiness Workgroup, a consortium of public health experts and medical officials sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, has released a new report focusing on "sheltering-in-place" - the practice of staying in one place during a disaster to seek refuge, such as in a home, church, school, office or any other structure. The report, released last week, found that many people would not be able to shelter-in-place, creating additional hazards for those helping to respond to the disaster and those affected by it.
September 20 '07: On the Penn State's Live website, the school's efforts at preparing its community for disasters were highlighted through cooperation and participation during the National Preparedness Month campaign, sponsored by DHS. Disaster information resources for the school are bolstered through the Extension Disaster Education Network which also has been used by other community groups across the country.
August 30 '07: At the 42nd World Congress of Surgery of the International Society of Surgery ISS/SIC being held in Montreal, Quebec, the public has been invited to attend a general session focusing on terrorism attacks and the impact that it has on the response in the surgical world a press release announced. The biennial event hosts topics on all health-related issues such as military trauma, disorders, new and emerging technologies, and this year - terrorism.
August 27 '07: Environmental News Network reported that California state officials unveiled three new mobile civilian emergency medical response shelters - the largest of their kind - during a demonstration in Los Alamitos. The shelters can contain up to 200 beds along with "other new medical assets".
August 23 '07: San Francisco city officials have begun a $22 million area-wide initiative to prepare the city for a disaster by improving communication and response plans through the Bay Area Super-Urban Area Initiative.
August 23 '07: USA Today reported recently that a partnership between the City of Atlanta, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Emory University called the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival program, uses an Internet-based database approach to combine several formats and medical records data to help create EMS performance reports and has improved survival rates for heart attack victims.
July 31 '07: Local officials in San Ramon Valley are considering partnering with a medical information distribution service which would compile residents' information that could then be used to build smart lists of special needs during emergencies, the Contra Costa Times reported. Some of the obstacles facing the implementation of the plan include pricing, privacy and security.
July 26 '07: The Wall Street Journal reported that medical schools and emergency response programs have added wilderness-medicine to their curricula. Medical officials say as more people enjoy outdoor activities and with an increase in disasters in remote locations, it is important that response operations are able to incorporate wilderness scenarios.
July 25 '07: Medical News Today reported that last week the Department of Health and Human Services released a new location-based medical and health preparedness and response guidebook to help "communities identify the healthcare facilities (hospitals and nursing homes) that could be available and prepared to provide assistance under emergency conditions in their communities."
July 20 '07: The American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association have released a new report (see link below to download the report), which calls for repairing "gaping holes in the U.S. disaster response system," the Government Health IT website reported.
July 10 '07: Government Health IT reported that a new website has been launched by the National Health Information Network's agencies last week "to provide tools, information and resources for companies and public organizations." The website will be the "starting" point for obtaining information for medical first responders and health officials, GovHealthIT reported.
June 25 '07: Band-Aid has a first aid checklist for families on its website that also includes a emergency preparedness and first aid informational download. Other sections on the website include ways to help mitigate and prepare for broken bones, chemical burns, poisoning, severe wounds and exposure to severe weather.
June 21 '07: A new peer-reviewed "Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness" journal has been created by the American Medical Association which will focus on public-health issues and the emergency management behind it, a press release announced. The publication will be published twice in 2007 and then become a quarterly in 2008.
June 20 '07: The FDA has announced a new web-based technology designed to help assess food supply safety. The technology, and acronym spelling CARVER was originally designed by the military "to identify areas that may be vulnerable to an attacker," the press release announced.
June 19 '07: The Associated Press reported that a huge blaze at a furniture warehouse in Charleston, S.C. has killed nine firefighters who responded to the inferno. While nine died, two warehouse employees were rescued according to City Mayor Joseph P. Riley during a morning news conference.
June 14 '07: The pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline PLC has announced in a press release that it will donate 50 million doses of the H5N1 flu vaccine to the World Health Organization to help build a pandemic vaccine stockpile for the poorest countries.
June 7 '07: A new website has been launched which compiles medical patients' prescription information such as drug interaction, patient clinical alerts and therapeutic duplication warnings, GovernmentHealthIT reported. The In Case of Emergency Prescription Database or ICERx.org was developed after thousands of prescription medical records were destroyed during Hurricane Katrina.
June 6 '07: The Payson Roundup in Arizona reported that the telemedicine group Humanitarian Emergency Logistics and Preparedness, or HELP is in discussion with several large technology companies to develop ways to increase telemedicine's reach into remote areas to provide medical response and relief.
June 5 '07: Education, planning, personal empowerment, response and support services are essential for any community to respond to a disaster or pandemic, according to a post by Georges Benjamin, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.A.C.E.P. (Emeritus) and former head of the American Public Health Association and Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the Pandemic Flu Leadership Blog sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
May 30 '07: Center for Disease Control officials have quarantined an airline traveler who has been diagnosed with a fatal drug-resistant form of tuberculosis CNN reported. The man, who flew from the U.S. to France and who returned to the U.S. by car via Toronto, was the first person to be ordered under such guidelines since 1963.
May 24 '07: In Arizona, Maricopa County officials have announced that they will work with their local immigrant population, both legal and illegal, in an effort to establish trust between the local government and its residents for bioterror preparedness, the Arizona Republic reported.
April 26 '07: Officials from the Food and Drug Administration told the Associated Press recently that the recent pet food recalls earlier in the month show a gap in the security apparatus put into place to ensure the safety of imported food. FDA inspectors, the AP reported, are totally overwhelmed with the rising total of imports with many shipments being found to be "filthy or otherwise contaminated."
April 20 '07: According to a press release from the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, the federal agency has released new guidelines designed to help develop and purchase "countermeasures against" chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.
April 18 '07: Food safety experts recently told the Associated Press that more than 97 percent of all food imported into the United States is not checked and inspected. Of the 1.3 percent of all fish, vegetables, fruit and prepared foods that are inspected, health officials say much of the food is unfit for human consumption.
April 12 '07: More than a half-dozen counties in Iowa will participate in emergency preparedness drills simulating a pandemic, Radio Iowa reported. The exercises also will include a full-scale exercise with law enforcement and EMT's as well as county and local health officials.
March 28 '07: About 150 North Dakotan first responders and members of area schools, police, fire, public health agencies, airport personnel, and public schools will participate in a nighttime emergency response exercise at the Bismark Municipal Airport, the Bismark Tribune reported. The nighttime exercise was chosen because of the logistical difficulties it presents, organizers said.
March 27 '07: Rhode Island health officials have announced a new web-based service which will allow medical officials in the state's hospital system to share real-time information including video and imaging as well as data to help increase awareness about the status of hospitals the Kent County Daily Times reported.
March 26 '07: A new early warning system designed for municipal water systems called GuardianBlue has been developed for the Department of Homeland Security, a press release from the Hach Company announced. The system will help city managers detect any possible security breach in the water supply from a possible terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
March 22 '07: A three-year study by the University of Georgia has found that the U.S. is not ready to respond to a nuclear attack, a press release read. The study, which has called "the most advanced and detailed simulation published in open scientific literature," found that surge capacity inadequacies and a breakdown in response services would result from a large nuclear attack in a major American city.
February 28: During the week of February 19 through the 23, health officials, university professors, government employees, first responders, members of the fire, police, and EMS communities as well as experts in homeland security and preparedness gathered in Washington DC for the Public Health Preparedness Summit, sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security among other private sector organizations and federal agencies.
February 7 '07: In West Virginia, members of the Wheeling medical community, state, county and local emergency management officials as well as fire chiefs, and physicians are scheduled to gather at a symposium designed so that they can discuss ways in which hospitals and the medical community can prepare and respond to a bioterror attack, the Wheeling Intelligencer reported.
February 7 '07: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued new pandemic guidelines last week, the New York Times reported. The guidelines came after state and local government and health officials asked the federal government for suggestions on how to prepare and respond to a pandemic such as bird flu.
February 6 '07: Real-time information sharing, situational awareness and established communications lines have helped Navajo emergency officials prepare for a possible flu pandemic, Government Computer News reported. That kind of preparedness allowed tribal health officials to vaccinate more than 24,000 in one day - the largest in the U.S..
January 31 '07: Hospitals in New Jersey said recently that local emergency rooms are too full and that there is little room to handle a surge if there were a disaster, North Jersey reported. To underscore the overcrowding, a recent national bioterror and disaster preparedness report found the state to be among the lowest scoring in the country.
January 29 '07: Baltimore-area hospitals have entered into an information-sharing agreement that would help hospital officials and medical responders, "share information about resources and staffing" to mitigate the impact of a large disaster, Baltimore's City Health Department Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein said, the Examiner reported.
December 27 '06: A new report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services outlines cooperative measures being put into place by federal officials to cooperate with domestic and international agencies to help medical and government officials as well as first responders prepare for an influenza pandemic, Government Health IT reported.
December 20 '06: Illinois Governor Rod. R. Blagojevich announced recently the creation of a School Guidance During an Influenza Pandemic reference wesbite and guide for the state's school system administrators to help them understand how to prepare and handle students during a flu outbreak a news release said.
December 15 '06: The U.S. Fire Administration has released a new pandemic flu best practices set of guidelines for first responders, and all other service agencies such as police, EMS and public works to help them prepare, the administration's website announced earlier this month.
December 14 '06: Local school officials partnered with emergency managers and first responders to conduct school evacuation exercises in North Carolina, the StarNewsOnline reported earlier this week. The area's preparedness drills were the first of their kind in the region, and school officials said that the 3,600 students and faculty performed well.
December 13 '06: An annual report released by the Trust for America's Health has found that many states are "nowhere near as prepared as we should be for bioterrorism, bird flu and other health disasters," Jeff Levi, the director of the trust told USA Today. All 50 states were scored on a 10-point system based on emergency medical response and preparedness.
December 13 '06: Medical officials have worried about surge capacity in the nation's hospitals during a crisis such as Hurricane Katrina or the attacks on September 11, 2001. Johns Hopkins University Medicine reported recently that one plan proposed by leading health experts would call for hospitals to "begin with a strategy to empty their beds of relatively healthier patients."
December 13 '06: State officials in Kansas have said they are working to try and protect the cattle industry against the threat of a terrorist attack or other biological hazard which could cripple the US beef supply. The Hutchinson News reported on Wednesday that measures are being put into place which help to monitor the livestock as the cattle pass through Kansas.
December 12 '06: Efforts are underway to construct a Nationwide Health Information Network that would link medical officials, first responders and EMS allowing them to share multi-media information in real-time, a Health and Human Services departmental release announced. Officials hope the NHIN will become a "network of networks" to help with the flow of interoperable information and communication.
December 5 '06: The Canadian government has developed a pandemic plan that addresses the first triage stages in the event of an influenza outbreak, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota reported. The plans were first published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) and they include other types of triage plans "such as severity scoring systems."
November 29 '06: Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said on Tuesday that his agency will work to help all highest-risk urban areas comply with an interoperable mandate to make all agencies able to communicate with each other, GovExec reported Tuesday. DHS wants complete interoperability for 2008.
The City of Charleston Neighborhood Councils, some 97 strong and growing, provide a system of communication and a substantial base for providing training and preparation for disaster readiness for city residents. City staff regularly meet with neighborhoods and provide basic training for the neighborhoods as they understand that there is a period of time when the city and its citizens must be able to operate and function without outside help. Neighborhoods are encouraged to send representatives for CERT Training from the Charleston County Emergency Preparedness Division. CERT trained volunteers are prepared to be first responders in their neighborhoods. These volunteers and other neighborhood members offer a front line response for the individual neighborhoods in the City.
November 22 '06: The Center for Disease and Research Policy at the University of Minnesota has reported that the Department of Health and Human Services has released new community-based plans guiding federal, state, local and institutional officials on how to mitigate and respond during a pandemic.
November 14 '06: Seattle state and local officials are floating an idea to help spread valuable medicines in the event of a bioterror attack by using mailmen and mailwomen as couriers of vaccines, the Seattle Times reported last Friday. Over the weekend, more than 38,000 households were used as testing sites for the distribution test.
November 13 '06: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta have announced that they will not release their report findings surrounding the response to Hurricane Katrina, although lessons learned have been taken into consideration for a reconfiguration of prevention, and response efforts during disasters, the CDC's website announced recently.
October 27 '06: The mental health of first responders during a disaster can be significantly damaged, like the victims of the disaster who the responders are trying to help, Homeland Response reported this week. According to mental health experts and first responder organizations, the stress of response can pose serious mental health risks.
October 13 '06: The Associated Press reported Friday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is pushing a new pandemic quarantine plan using "primitive infection-control" measures to mitigate the impact of a large-scale infection from bird flu or another disease while vaccines and drugs are being developed.
September 29 '06: According to the Washington Post Thursday, during congressional testimony on Wednesday, medical officials said the nation's emergency rooms and hospitals are at "the breaking point" and currently suffer from understaffing, slow response and overcrowding.
August 9 '06: First responders should be able to access information about victims using a standardized electronic information records, a federally chartered IT advisory group recommended at the beginning of the month Washington Technology reported last week. The aim is to create a common platform to allow for quick and easy access of victims' medical records while officials respond to an emergency.
August 8 '06: A new national standard for the collection, packaging, and subsequent testing of potentially dangerous powders like the anthrax virus has been created according to officials, Science Daily reported Monday. The new standard will allow first responders and federal authorities to test the powders in the field for forensic analysis.
August 4 '06: The National Council on Disability released a report on Thursday entitled "The Impact of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita on People with Disabilities: A look Back and Remaining Challenges" a press release issued by NCD announced. The report focuses on ways to "guide" the president, Congress and state and local emergency planners develop and improve evacuation and response plans.
July 12 '06: The Associated Press reported Wednesday that a new digital national emergency warning system built by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management System will be up and running by next year. Aaron Walker, a spokesman for DHS told the AP, "Anything that can receive a text message will receive the alert. ... We find that the new digital system is more secure, it's faster and it enables us to reach a wide array of citizens and alert them to pending disasters."
June 28 '06: The Frederick News-Post reported Tuesday that a new National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center is being built in Frederick, Maryland. The building will be the first of its kind to house biodefense operations for the Department of Homeland Security - currently, there are several operational-but-separate locations working on biodefense. "The laboratory's mission," the News-Post wrote, "is to understand current and future biological threats; assess threat vulnerabilities and potential consequences; and conduct forensic analysis of evidence from terrorism and biological crimes." The center is expected to open June 2008.
June 26 '06: The annual TOPOFF exercises were completed last week according to the Department of Homeland Security. The exercises, designed to have several federal agencies working together to simulate a terrorist attack or natural disaster, operate within the guidelines of the National Response Plan (NRP) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). DHS Undersecretary for Preparedness George Foresman said the the fourth TOPOFF exercise "provided an excellent opportunity to strengthen the nation's capacity for effective, coordinated action to address terrorist threats and major disasters."
June 21 '06: A report released by the RAND Corporation which was compiled for the US Department of Health and Human Services found that response to a medical emergency stemming from a natural disaster or a biological, chemical, nuclear or other terrorist attack would "largely depend" on the existing medical response structure and that, depending on how those responder and public agencies are organized, would affect the response. The report, compiled in 2004 and 2005, was prepared for the Office of Public Health Emergency Preparedness and was released this year.
June 15 '06: According to the National Public Radio show "Talk of the Nation," Wednesday, a new report released by the Institute of Medicine looked at the current state of the nation's hospital emergency rooms and found that overall, the national emergency medical system is "overburdened, underfunded, and highly fragmented." In some cases, those seeking medical attention in crowded hospitals are forced to wait up to 48 hours before they receive medical help. Furthermore, first responder medical personnel, and EMS services "do not effectively coordinate EMS services with ED's (Emergency Departments) and trauma center. As a result, regional flow of patients is poorly managed, leaving some ED's empty and other crowded," the report read.
June 8 '06: Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt announced Thursday new federal funding to states, territories and major urban areas to help with bioterrorism research and prevention. The funding, which will total close to $1.2 billion will be used "to improve infectious disease surveillance and investigation, enhance the preparedness of hospitals and the health care system to deal with large numbers of casualties, expand public health laboratory and communications capacities and improve connectivity between hospitals, and city, local and state health departments to enhance disease reporting," a press release announced. The new funding will be awarded through a cooperative effort with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta which will move funds toward a national, city-wide initiative designed to inoculate those living in urban areas to stop the spread of a pandemic disease.
June 5 '06: A federal lawsuit in New York, on behalf of more than 8,000 firefighters, police and private workers who responded to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001, is focusing on the potential health effects of the dust cloud released when the towers fell the New York Times reported Monday. "From legal documents presented in the case, a tale emerges of heroic but ineffective efforts to protect workers, with botched opportunities, confused policies and contradictions that failed to ensure their safety," the Times reported.
May 29 '06: Potential new changes in the structure of the Department of Homeland Security would mean that the National Disaster Medical System would not longer be under the control of the Department, Congress Daily reported last week.
May 19 '06: Inside the Pentagon reported Thursday that the Department of Homeland Security expects to have a national network of bio-sensors up and running by 2009 that would be "capable of detecting dangerous airborne biological agents in major US cities," according to a Homeland Security official.
May 18 '06: A letter sent in January from the Department of Health and Human Services to Native tribal leaders around the country summarized the importance of coordination of health and emergency services with state and local leaders in the event of a pandemic caused by the H5N1 avian flu virus.
April 27 '06: The Senate released a report Thursday on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's response during Hurricane Katrina, CNN reported. In the report, lawmakers said the agency needs to be dismantled and reassembled and that the Department of Homeland Security should "create a National Preparedness and Response Authority within DHS to fuse the department's emergency management, preparedness and critical infrastructure assets 'into a powerful new organization that can confront the challenges of natural and manmade catastrophes,'" the cable news channel reported.
January 26 '06: Two representatives from New York are pushing legislation in Congress for appointment of a federal health inspector to lead the treatment and testing of those workers who helped clear the rubble from the Twin Towers after their collapse on September 11, 2001.
January 18 '06: The nation's emergency medical teams, which respond to national and natural disasters, are lacking the necessary funding, logistics, staff and money needed to stay prepared, USA Today reported according to accounts given by Congress, industry experts and former Bush administration officials.
January 11 '06: Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced early in January changes to the Secure Border Initiative in the Department of Homeland Security. The creation of new Border Enforcement and Security Task Forces would consist of "nationally-integrated teams with federal, state and local representation specifically directed at cross-border criminal activity," a department release read. "These new task forces," Chertoff said, "will take a comprehensive approach to dismantling criminal organizations that exploit our border."
January 5 '06: A report compiled by the inspector general, Richard Skinner, in the Department of Homeland Security has found that it is essential for "participating responders as well as coordinating departments and agencies to have a common operation picture, which is essential to an efficient and effective command-and-control structure," during the biennial TOPOFF exercises, Government Computer News reported.
January 3 '06: In addition to the human and poultry threat the asian bird flu poses, pig farming in the US could be greatly affected according to health experts, Reuters has reported.
November 30 '05: Medical officials in states along the Gulf Coast ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma have said that lingering health and emotional problems have mixed with environmental concerns which have caused increasing amounts of strain and stress to the victims of the hurricanes.
November 14 '05: Poultry farmers in the US will prove to be on the front lines of defense in the event that the avian flu virus find its way into the country. USA Today reported Monday that many of the health regulations which have been in place for years to protect domestic flocks against disease keep domestic birds out of site and out of range of their wild counterparts.
June 21 '05: During the moments after the attacks on 9/11, lawmakers took efforts to show the country that they were still working and that government and Congress was still functioning. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security announced further efforts to test the ability and functionality of Congress under a national emergency.
November 21 '04: As international governments and the world medical community race to counter what many see as an inevitable avian flu pandemic, in the US the president has asked Congress to set aside more than $7 billion in federal funds to help research and produce medicines that will be effective against the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus.
November 4 '04: New quarantine stations will be created at Boston's Logan International Airport to give airport screeners and health officials a chance to "evaluate" travelers coming into the US who may be sick, the Associated Press reported Friday.
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