The Office of Public Health Preparedness (OPHP) coordinates the Department’s preparation and response to a large-scale public health emergency in order to protect the health and safety of residents in Monroe County.
Examples of a large-scale public health emergency may include the following:
We accomplish this by:
One thing that we all can do to prepare for disasters is to make a plan, build a kit with essential items, and stay informed. We know that people who prepare before an emergency happens are able to keep their families safe and recover more quickly when disasters do occur.
Primary responsibilities include:
The federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) has large quantities of medicine and medical supplies to protect the American public if there is a public health emergency (terrorist attack, flu outbreak, earthquake) severe enough to cause local supplies to run out. Once federal and local authorities agree that the SNS is needed, medicines will be delivered to any state in the U.S. within 12 hours. Each state has plans to receive and distribute SNS medicine and medical supplies to local communities as quickly as possible.
Monroe County is prepared to receive, process and distribute medication, supplies and equipment to Point of Dispensing (POD) sites and hospitals throughout Monroe County.
In the event of a large-scale public health emergency affecting Monroe County it may be necessary to administer vaccine and/or dispense medication to our entire population of approximately 735,000 citizens. An event of this magnitude would rapidly exceed the county’s resources and ability to respond in a timely and sustained manner. Depending upon the type of health emergency at-hand, a quick, seamless, and comprehensive response will be required to minimize illness and death.
The Monroe County Civil Preparedness Initiative (CPI), launched in 2007, established a working partnership between Monroe County and all municipalities (city/towns/villages), to share responsibilities in responding to a large-scale public health emergency. In a major emergency, Points-of Dispensing (PODS) would be established in your community. You would be directed there to receive medications and possibly other materials.
There are a number of public health related events which may necessitate this type of response including acts of terrorism (anthrax, smallpox, plague) and naturally occurring health emergencies such as pandemic influenza.
To ensure that our residents receive medication during such an emergency, several departments of Monroe County Government will work together to receive medical supplies from the federal government. The materials will be processed and distributed to municipal Point-of-Dispensing (PODs) sites. Municipalities will operate the PODs within their respective sectors and coordinate local support activities to ensure that we get “pills to people”.
POD sites are typically large educational facilities (universities, colleges, high schools) located throughout the County. Depending on the nature of the medical emergency PODs may have to operate around-the-clock for several days.
A large-scale public health emergency exemplifies the philosophy that all emergencies are local.
During a large-scale public health emergency such as an influenza pandemic or an act of terrorism, medical volunteers would be urgently needed to assist local health officials with functions such as dispensing medications, vaccinating people or triaging. Creating such a team prior to an emergency is essential to assure that at we can quickly mobilize to serve our community. Unfortunately, numerous well-meaning volunteers were turned away in the aftermath of 9/11 because it was not possible to verify their credentials. Having a functional MRC established will prevent that from happening in Monroe County.
A wide range of licensed or certified health professionals, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians, mental health providers and others is needed. You can be be currently practicing, retired or in-training. Non-medical volunteers with skill sets including security, information technology, logistics and transportation will also be needed to support the health professionals.
The MRC will play a primary role in our community's Civil Preparedness Initiative (described above). MRC volunteers of all kinds can take additional satisfaction knowing they would likely be working in their own community caring for their own families and neighbors.
As a MRC member, you will have an opportunity to informally network with medical professionals from our county and across New York State. Volunteers will be provided with training in operating a Point-of-Dispensing (POD) site, disaster management, incident command, local disaster plans, recognition of biological and chemical contaminants and other pertinent topics.
We recognize however that your time is important and therefore we pledge to keep the time commitment to a minimum.
Please put your valued health skills to use in caring for your family and neighbors during an emergency by joining the Monroe County Medical Reserve Corps.
Following are a link to guidance on general preparedness and courses recommended for Medical Reserve Corps volunteers:
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