Emergency Preparedness & Response

About Us

The Emergency Preparedness & Response Program prepares the health department to respond rapidly and effectively to natural and made disasters, including terrorism. It works closely with the City’s Emergency Planner. The EP&R program plans for the worst, exercises these plans to see if they can be carried out and makes adjustments and updates as necessary. EP&R us a comprehensive planning, and intelligence analyzation and monitoring program that works in concert with the Epidemiologist and communicable disease team, along with the Homeland Security Department, the Emergency Manager for the City of Hampton, Virginia, and other State and Federal agencies.

EP&R is constantly monitoring reports and situations from all over the local area, State of Virginia, and, in fact, the entire world, that may be of concern to the public’s health.

The EP&R program also works closely with State and local agencies to develop response plans for both natural (flooding and hurricanes) and manmade threats such as chemical spills or intentional attacks as well as the intentional release of a biological agent. Plans have been made, or are in the process of being completed, to provide a rapid response with healthcare, including the following:

Pre and post hurricane
Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)
Influenza (Flu)
Anthrax
Plague
Smallpox

Plans are also in place to request enough medical supplies for our entire health districts and outlying cities, to be in place within 12 hours, more than enough time to ensure timely and proper treatment.

EP&R is available for any questions you may have regarding Bioterrorism events.


 

EP&R Responsibilities

Plans & Protocols

The Hampton & Peninsula Health Districts write and develop Emergency Response Plans (ERP)  to establish the legal and organizational basis for operations in response to any type of  disaster or large-scale emergency situation. In addition to the Health Department’s assignments and responsibilities in the locality Emergency Operations Plan, the Health Department has developed its ERP for detailed agency responses to specific hazards.

Training/Medical Reserve Corps

EP&R is responsible for training staff in preparation and response to an emergency event. EP&R is also responsible for the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) within the Hampton & Peninsula Health Districts. The MRC is utilized to augment POD staff and other administrative duties. We are always looking for medical (MD, DO, RN, LPN and any other medically trained person) along with non-medical staff. Training is provided. MRC staff would assist in the dispensing of medications or vaccinations, escorting patients to the proper location at the POD, assisting with paper work, and data entry just to name a few jobs. If you are interested, please contact Tyra Jones at tyra.jones@vdh.virginia.gov.

 

Bioterrorism

Defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “A bioterrorism attack is the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. These agents are typically found in nature, but it is possible that they could be changed to increase their ability to cause disease, make them resistant to current medicines, or to increase their ability to be spread into the environment. Biological agents can be spread through the air, through water, or in food. Terrorists may use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days. Some bioterrorism agents, like the smallpox virus, can be spread from person to person and some, like anthrax, can not.” EP&R assists with medication dispensing, planning, and management during a bioterrorism event.

Isolation and Quarantine

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to contain the spread of a contagious illness, public health authorities rely on many strategies. Two of these strategies are isolation and quarantine. Both are common practices in public health, and both aim to control exposure to infected or potentially infected persons. Both may be undertaken voluntarily or compelled by public health authorities. The two strategies differ in that isolation applies to persons who are known to have an illness, and quarantine applies to those who have been exposed to an illness but who may or may not become ill.

Hurricane Preparedness

According to the National Hurricane Center, history teaches that a lack of hurricane awareness and preparation are common threads among all major hurricane disasters. By knowing your vulnerability and what actions you should take, you can reduce the effects of a hurricane disaster.  The goal of Hurricane Preparedness is to inform the public about the hurricane hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to take ACTION. Information can be used to save lives at work, home, while on the road, or on the water.

EP&R is currently working on and testing plans to open Points of Dispensing or (PODs) which in an emergency would be opened to examine patients and distribute proper antibiotics or vaccinations. The POD would be used for both natural and man-made outbreaks. Locations will be made public after they have received the equipment and medications and are ready to start serving the public.

EP&R also works with “shelter operations” should they be opened by the localities. It must be remembered that shelters are for temporary housing during an emergency, usually weather related (hurricanes and flooding). These shelters are NOT emergency rooms or even assisted living centers. If a recommendation has been made to evacuate the area where you live, go outside the area if you can. You are welcome to come to the shelters, but the living conditions will be very basic.

Make sure your family is prepared! Go to ready.gov and get your action plan together.

Epidemiology

The role of epidemiology is to prepare for and rapidly respond to the deliberate release of, or natural exposure to harmful viruses, bacteria and other germs (agents). This is accomplished by routinely detecting, assessing, and controlling the spread of unwanted pathogens. The Hampton & Peninsula Health Districts, neighboring health districts and the state health department use disease and syndromic surveillance, disease investigation and disease trend analysis to rapidly identify threats to public health. Peninsula citizens also have a role in public health epidemiology by recognizing and reporting potential hazards to the health department.