It’s been named one of 17 states which are prepared for public health emergencies.
Baltimore, Md (KM) When it comes to handling public health emergencies, Maryland is very well prepared. A non-profit organization called Trust for America’s Health says the state ranks among the top 17 when it comes to preparedness. Carin Morrell, the Public Information Officer for the Maryland Department of Health, Office of Preparedness and Response, says the Trust judged the state on a number of factors. “Making public health emergency, our biosurveillance program, medical trauma-measure readiness…..as well as our Maryland Response Medical Reserve Corps,” she says.
The Health Department says the Trust, in its report, Ready or Not: Protecting the Public;s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, judged Maryland on 10 items when it comes to readiness:: incident management; cross-sector community collaboration; accreditation by the Public Health Accreditation Board; accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program; size of public health budget; water security; workforce resiliency and infection control; countermeasure utilization; patient safety; and health security surveillance.
Morrell says the Office of Preparedness and Response conducts a number of exercises to see how it can handle potential emergencies. “Exercises help us to practice the plans that we have in place. And in a low risk environment, it helps us to discover any gaps we might have and work to fill those in before an emergency occurs,” she says.
The Office of Preparedness and Response mostly responds to weather events, such as hurricanes, blizzards and extremely cold temperatures. But, Morrell says, it can deal with disease outbreaks and epidemics. “And then we also help with special events that happen across the state. That might be an inauguration or the Star Spangled Spectacular, just to insure that we are prepared,:”: she says.
The Office has responded to a number of emergencies in recent years. “During the Ebola outbreak, we had a call center that we had set up. And we practiced and exercised plans in the event that an Ebola case came to Maryland,” says Morrell. She also says the State was prepared when the Zika virus was detected in the United States.
In most instances, she says, the emergency is handled by the local health department. The Maryland Department of Health will come in to provide support.
Morrell urges Marylanders to be prepared on their own for public health emergencies and other disasters by keeping a well-stock emergency kit with at least a three-day supply of food, water and medications. In addition, the Office of Preparedness and Response says it’s important that when an emergency happens, all family members know how to keep in touch with each other.
By Kevin McManus