What is the Emergency Preparedness Infrastructure in Connecticut?
The Division of Emergency Management & Homeland Security (DEMHS) of Connecticut's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) organizes Connecticut into 5 planning and preparedness regions. Each DEMHS region is under the direction of a regional office. The regional offices serve as a single direct point of contact for the jurisdiction they serve on all administrative and emergency matters. Regional partners include public health professionals, health care professionals, first responders and municipal officials.
Connecticut’s Department of Public Health also divides Connecticut into 41 Mass Dispensing Areas (MDAs). Each region is intended to run clinics that can quickly provide oral medications or vaccines to Connecticut residents during a public health emergency. For example, in the event of a smallpox outbreak, the state’s entire population of over 3.4 million residents could be vaccinated over a ten-day period at various Points of Distribution (PODs) within each MDA. PODs have been established based on an ability to serve a population of 50,000 each.
What Role Do Local Health Departments Play?
Local health departments work together with other agencies to plan coordinated local responses to public health emergencies. For each municipality, Local Public Health Preparedness and Response Plans are developed to address roles and responsibilities of public health in cooperation with local municipal officials, emergency responders, and town agencies as well as regional and state resources.
Local health department activities may include:
Developing a local Health Alert Network (HAN), which when used during an emergency would allow rapid dissemination of important health information to area physicians, town officials, first responders, and other health providers;
Ensuring appropriate disease surveillance, which involves monitoring the spread of disease to predict, observe, and minimize the harm cause in pandemic other emergent situations;
Issuing orders to isolate (applies to persons who are known to be ill with a contagious disease) and quarantine (applies to persons who have been exposed to a contagious disease but who may or may not have become ill) individuals or populations as necessary to protect the public’s health; and
Coordinating mass vaccination and dispensing clinics to rapidly provide vaccines or oral medications to healthy populations in a short period of time to prevent or reduce the effects of smallpox, anthrax, pandemic influenza, or other potential threats to life.