Throughout the 1990's the US government became aware of a dramatic increase in the proliferation and use of nuclear, biological and radiological weapons worldwide. During the 2001 anthrax letter attacks, public officials quickly realized that there were major gaps in our county's ability to respond to large scale weapons of mass destruction (WMD) threats.
Since 2002 the Madison County-London City Health District has been awarded a portion of the Public Health and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act grant funds to develop Homeland Security countermeasures and improve the ability to respond to public health and other emergencies. Some of the new responsibilities include:
1. Developing an all-hazards emergency response plan that includes rapid mass immunization and distribution of antibiotics to the entire population of Madison County within 48 hours in order to ensure their well-being and safety.
2. Creating and implementing a Strategic Plan for continuous improvement of planning, training and emergency response.
3. Developing a Continuity of Operations plan that identifies the essential services the Health District provides and how they will continue during an emergency.
4. Working with local agencies to update the County Emergency Operations Plan. Some examples of this include the addition of Strategic National Stockpile Activation Attachment, creating a plan to respond to infectious disease outbreaks or an influenza pandemic, creating a plan for community coordinated mass care, and an Agriculture and Animal Annex to the County Emergency Operations Plan.
5. Participating in departmental, community and regional drills and exercises to test the emergency plans.
6. Instituting a 24 hours per day, seven days per week, 365 days per year emergency on-call pager to receive infectious disease reports and other potential public health emergencies.
7. Forming partnerships and mutual aid agreements with local, regional and state first response agencies.
8. Acquiring a multi-agency radio communications system that is compatible with other local and state agencies.
9. Implementing a multi-discipline rapid infectious disease detection, investigation and management system so that the spread of disease can be controlled as soon as possible.
10. Assessing community vulnerabilities and threats.
11. Implementing a multi-discipline rapid infectious disease detection, investigation and management system so that the spread of disease can be controlled as soon as possible.
12. Training staff members through better access to on-line, on-demand courses covering topics like incident command, epidemiology and weapons of mass destruction.
13. Educating first responders, health care professionals, volunteers and community members about the best way to protect and prepare themselves and their families for a public health emergency; paying special attention to reach out to the most vulnerable groups.
14. Recruiting, registering and training a local Medical Reserve Corps that is ready to assist the community in the event of an emergency.
15. Rapidly informing and warning the public of specific actions they should take to prevent or curtail a public health emergency.
16. Coordination smallpox vaccinated response teams.