Friday, May 1, 2009

Director’s Take: TEEX’s Pandemic Flu Preparedness Training

NOTE: The pictures in this post were taken at the 2007 and 2008 Texas State-Level Pandemic Influenza Modified Full-Scale Exercises.

The recent spread of influenza A (H1N1), more commonly called “swine flu,” has brought preparedness for such events to the forefront.

Are local public health officials and their partners in the local public health system prepared for events such as this recent swine flu phenomenon? If so, how did they become prepared?

They participate in training, of course.
TEEX pandemic flu training:
For more than three years our
National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center has facilitated pandemic influenza preparedness through planning assistance and mass prophylaxis training. The mass prophylaxis preparedness training originally started with a grant in 2004 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and now the course is fully funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Mass Prophylaxis is the capability to protect the health of the population through the administration of critical interventions (antibiotics, vaccinations, antivirals, etc.) in response to a public health emergency in order to prevent the development of disease among those who are exposed or are potentially exposed to public health threats.

The centerpiece of
TEEX’s pandemic influenza training is a course called “Bioterrorism: Mass Prophylaxis Preparedness and Planning.” This course is a guide for local health officials and their partners in the local public health system to coordinate plans to provide mass distribution of pharmaceuticals for the jurisdiction as they relate to the Division of Strategic National Stockpile (DSNS) program.

The purpose of this course is to enhance a jurisdiction’s preparedness and emergency response efforts by developing (or revising) a plan addressing an all-hazards approach towards mass prophylaxis. The course is delivered by two public health professionals and consists of a combination of lectures, small group activities, and a tabletop exercise.

Evaluated by the
Texas A&M Health Science Center’s School of Rural Public Health, the course awards 16 contact hours of continuing education for doctors, nurses and public health professionals. This year we have conducted twenty-one deliveries of this course all across the USA, trained over 600 people, and has over thirty course deliveries scheduled between now and the end of November.

The feedback for the course delivery has been extremely positive:

Mary Lynne Thames, PhD, LSU Health Science Center School of Public Health: “I just wanted to thank you for a wonderfully successful two days of training. We received nothing but positive feedback from those in attendance. I look forward to another opportunity to bring you and your team this way.”

Susan McNabb, Volunteer Coordinator, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department: “I wanted to drop you a line to let you know what a fantastic job you all did with the training and exercise last week. The health department staff, as well as the outside agencies’ representatives who attended, all learned a tremendous amount. Our EMA [Emergency Management Agency] Director is already in the process of scheduling a meeting with the mayor which will include our health department administrator.”

Learn more:
For more information about pandemic flu preparedness training, contact Phil Allum:


WalkingShark said...

All right, so I have a question. Why does every hiring manager in the field of emergency management want multiple years of experience for any positions they open? Do schools like UNT simply not train people correctly with their Emergency Administration and Disaster Planning B.S. program, or is the market simply oversaturated with qualified people?

ChuckGlenewinkel said...

We posed your question to Mr. H Lobdell, Division Director for the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center. Here’s his response:
“Every organization must make judgments as to the degree to which on-the-job experience plays into accomplishing the job for which an individual is being hired. The fact that some jobs require more experience than others is not a slight on academic programs; it is simply recognition that for some positions, actual job experience plays a significant role in job effectiveness. Someone who has been trained in a technical skill can reasonably be expected to be able to perform those skills to a standard accepted in the workplace. Emergency management is not a technical skill in the sense that successful performance is as much a function of adaptability, flexibility, perceptiveness, ability to anticipate and a number of other characteristics which are unrelated to book learning. Most of those characteristics are honed through experience.

“In our case, we are a training organization, responsible for providing information and facilitating interactions among career professional participants involved in our courses. Facilitators and instructors must be credible to this audience, and that credibility is built upon the real experiences which each brings to the instructional setting. There is no substitute for being able to bring examples based upon actual events to the discussion, and those examples are much more powerful if the person leading the discussion was an actual participant.

“The paradox of needing experience to get a job in order to get experience is one which is not new to many job seekers. Unfortunately, in the Emergency Management world where decisions directly impact citizens' lives, many employers are unwilling to take the risk of bringing someone in at the bottom and training them.”

Good luck and thanks for reading the TEEX Blog.