Integrating Academic Health Centers into the Healthcare Coalition: Building Whole-Community Emergency Response for Coastal Resilience
A Case Study on Hydrofluoric Acid Incident Response
On October 27th and 28th, UTMB, in conjunction with Galveston County Health District, Galveston County Office of Emergency Management, Shriner's Hospital for Children, and Galveston Area Ambulance Authority, will convene a symposium on the latest thinking in community response to a major Hydrofluoric Acid incident; and conduct an emergency drill for assessing readiness to respond to a significant release in the Texas City area. They symposium will address the development of a "Whole Community Approach" to preparedness. This seeks to engage the full capacity of the private and nonprofit sectors to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from any type of threat or hazard effectively. Our intent is to discern the means to integrate efforts for maximum efficacy, and in so doing, guide the development of policies and best practices that emerge from our work to increase the resiliency and reduce the vulnerability of Gulf Coast communities. The exercise will address triage, transport, decontamination, and treatment of both adult and pediatric patients with trauma, exposure, and burn injuries.
Rationale for Whole Community Response
At local, state, regional, and national levels, much focus has been brought to bear on understanding and improving our capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Repeatedly, over the past decade, we have been challenged by a series of public health emergencies that has tested the preparedness and response capacities of government and public health agencies, as well as our hospitals and clinics. Natural disasters have included infectious disease outbreaks such as severe acute respiratory syndrome and the 2009 H1N1 pandemic as well as devastating hurricanes, floods, blizzards, tornadoes, and fires. Man-made disasters have included the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the anthrax mailings, and the Boston marathon bombing in addition to the Deepwater Horizon explosion and subsequent oil spill, and the Fukshima Diichi nuclear reactor emergency in Japan. While theses examples clearly illustrate the diverse and complex threats to public health, they also emphasize the very real need to improve capacity for effective and timely preparedness and response.
Many national discussions have focused on pathways improve our ability to launch an effective, integrated response to large-scale disasters, as evinced bu the Presidential Policy Directive on National Preparedness and the development of strategic plans for integrated emergency response including the NIH's Disaster Research Response Initiative (DR2); FEMA's Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management; and Health and Human Services' Healthcare Preparedness Capabilities: National Guidance for Healthcare System Preparedness. While useful in providing guidance for strategic planning, it must be noted that disaster response, first and foremost is local. As reflected in the proposed symposium agenda which follows, a first step in developing a strategic plan for action will be to discuss the opportunities for and barriers to integrating efforts.
UTMB Model for Community Engagement in Resiliency Efforts
1. To foster a stronger regional healthcare coalition / whole community response capability vis a vis Hydrofluoric Acid incidents. (Though this would have carry over effects for other kinds of healthcare regional capabilities)
2. Increase the capability and capacity of UTMB to respond to an HF incident
3. Encourage the development of a more robust regional plan for HF
4. Explore the question - Would an HF specific key response factor study; and a region-specific risk assessment enhance planning capabilities?
5. Bring the modeling up to date
6.Explore the question - Should Calcium Gluconate be included in the Strategic National Stockpile?
7. (If you can deal with HF as a region, you can deal with Chlorine and other heavier than air Toxic Industrial Chemicals that might be used in a terrorist attack)
8. Work toward integrating Federal and local Disaster Research Response efforts into Incident Command Systems (Examples for HF)
a. Baseline testing for responders
b. Screening tests for worried well
9. Integrate with other UT national security efforts
10. Collaborate with Texas A&M and TEEX