The Role of Hertford County Public Health Authority in Emergency Preparedness and Response
1. Serve in the Emergency Operations Center
The Hertford County Health Director will be responsible for emergency public health operations during all disasters.
2. Disaster Epidemiology and Surveillance
• The HCPHA will be monitoring the emergency room visits by Hertford County residents to all hospitals in North Carolina during disasters. Depending on the specific disaster, monitoring could include:
> Determining if there has been an increase in
symptoms from potential bioterrorism agents.
> Monitoring injuries resulting during or following a disaster.
> Monitoring for increases in influenza like illness symptoms.
• The HCPHA will be monitoring deaths to determine if there has been an increase as a result of a disaster.
This information will be shared with the Emergency Operation Center and other pertinent entities for possible action.
3. Outbreak Investigation and Intervention
The HCPHA Epidemiology Team investigates
and intervenes whenever there is a need to react
to an increase in communicable diseases in the county. These
activities will become the primary focus of most of the HCPHA staff if a pandemic influenza or bioterrorism attack with a biological weapon occurs.
4. Mass Medication Distribution
All HCPHA staff will be involved in the delivery of medications, including vaccinations, to the entire Hertford County population if necessary to prevent residents from getting sick or reduce the severity of an illness if they do get sick. Examples would be vaccinations or anti-viral medications to prevent or reduce the severity of illness from the influenza virus responsible for a pandemic flu, administration of antibiotics or vaccinations if there is a biological weapons attack or smallpox vaccines if smallpox is used as a biological weapon.
5. Food and Water Supply Safety
The HCPHA Environmental Health Specialists will be responsible for the following activities during and following a disaster:
• Coordinating environmental health activities for waste disposal, refuse, food, water control and vector/vermin control and sanitation.
• Providing for the monitoring and evaluation of environmental health hazards and arrange for corrective measures.
• Inspecting food and water in shelters.
• Assisting the HCPHA Public Information Officer in developing public education bulletins related to environmental health safety.
6. Shelter Staffing
The Hertford County Department of Social Services is responsible for managing the shelters at the Hertford County High School and the Hertford County Middle School when the county determines they need to be opened. The HCPHA provides two staff members per
12 hour shift, one of whom is a public health nurse. These nurses are there to provide first aide if needed and to help evaluate, detect, prevent and control communicable diseases. All residents coming to a shelter must bring their own medicine and other medical supplies. A caregiver must accompany all residents who require a caregiver when at home.
7. Strategic National Stockpile
The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is maintained by the Center of Disease Control. Whenever a large number of residents need medications and or other medical supplies and local and regional supplies have all been used or not available, the SNS will be requested. The HCPHA health director is responsible for ordering the SNS through Hertford County Emergency Management.
8. Public Information
• Before the event – the HCPHA is responsible for providing health promotion, disease prevention and health protection education to the public related to all potential disasters on a continuous basis. The focus is on teaching the Hertford County residents about steps to take to prevent illness.
• After the event – the HCPHA is responsible for providing health promotion, disease prevention and health protection education to the public specifically related to the disaster with a focus on public health concerns.
9. Monitor Mortuary Capacity – The HCPHA health director will coordinate with the Medical Examiner and other authorities to establish a temporary morgue, if necessary, during a disaster event.
10. Disaster Recovery Centers – Whenever possible, the HCPHA will provide a public health
representative at all local disaster recovery centers that are opened following a disaster event.