Minnesota Plans for Emergency, Prepares for Pandemic Response

Forty people from Minnesota’s Northeast Healthcare Preparedness Coalition (NHPC) recently attended the Pandemic Planning and Preparedness (P3) course at FEMA’s Center for Domestic Preparedness (CDP). Students represented 20 partnering agencies including: healthcare facilities, local and tribal public health; public safety; emergency management; the Minnesota Air National Guard; and regional healthcare, public health, and emergency management coordinators.

According to Marilyn Cluka, Public Health Preparedness Consultant with the Minnesota Department of Health, “Although this course focused on a pandemic response, the training can be applied to any disaster. We gained a better understanding of the Incident Command System and how we work together with different organizations within an Emergency Operations Center.”

Planning constitutes a large portion of the P3 training. Jo Thompson, Regional Healthcare Preparedness Coordinator said, “We have a lot of front-line personnel here from many agencies and facilities. Hopefully attendance at this course will help raise awareness with leadership about the planning that needs to take place when preparing for a disaster. This course benefits our communities because we are better prepared to serve the public during and after a disaster or pandemic.”

“This course has been a confidence boost,” said Kelvin McCuskey, Installation Emergency Manager with the 148th Minnesota Air National Guard. “We’re going home to look at how our plans can be more useful and how they integrate with other agency plans within our region.”

Disasters and preparing for pandemic events addresses burdens on operations, security, and many other services and infrastructure critical to health systems and law and order. Minnesota is taking the steps to address their ability to identify, contain, treat affected survivors and have plans in place for communities to recover quickly.

“Training and networking as a large group from a single region will help our communication during an incident,” said Cluka. “The state of Minnesota benefits greatly from this training, through more experience among its healthcare coalition members and the concentration on planning and preparedness.”

“This course gives us solid baseline information to compare with our current plans and raise them to the next level,” said Hilde Perala, hospital Emergency Management Manager. “The classroom conversations and information sharing will make a difference as we plan more closely in the future.”

“By removing us from the distractions of our normal everyday operations, retention of the course materials was greatly enhanced. Due to the healthcare specific setting, it also provided a more effective learning environment as compared to a mobile course hosted back home,” said Adam Shadiow, Regional Healthcare Preparedness Coordinator.

The CDP’s pandemic training course encompasses techniques for jurisdictions to plan and prepare for pandemic emergencies and also addresses procedures that relate to other disasters caused by weather, accidents or man-made hazards. Minnesota is taking important leaps in pandemic and disaster preparedness and the CDP’s pandemic planning course provides effective planning classes for emergency response personnel in a variety of situations.

The CDP P3 course is fully funded for tribal, state, and local response personnel. Round-trip air and ground transportation, lodging, and meals are provided at no cost to responders or their agency or jurisdiction. The CDP plays a leading role in preparing state, local and tribal responders to prepare for and respond to manmade events or major accidents involving mass casualties. To learn more about the Center for Domestic Preparedness, visit http://cdp.dhs.gov or call 866-213-9553. Visit the CDP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cdpfema and follow the center on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cdpfema.

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