CHHS Begins Works with Prince George’s County Health Department
The University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS), a non-profit consulting and academic group, has been awarded a year long contract with the Prince George’s County Health Department (PGCHD) to support local emergency preparedness efforts. Under the contract, a first between the two entities, CHHS will enhance the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Program (PHEP&R) in Prince George’s County by providing a full-time analyst to specialize in conducting workforce development trainings and emergency exercises, as well as provide logistical support to the program.
A full scale, Cities Readiness Initiative dispensing exercise in April 2015 is also planned under the contract. During the exercise, PGCHD staff and volunteers will set up, operate, and demobilize a point of dispensing (POD) site at a Prince George’s County high school to simulate the mass dispensing of medical countermeasures that would be required in a large-scale medical emergency. By focusing on staff roles and responsibilities in mass dispensing operations, the exercise will capitalize on a series of command staff trainings offered to PGCHD leadership and a new eLearning program geared toward general staff.
Following the POD exercise, a thorough evaluation of the response will highlight strengths and collective capabilities, as well as identify gaps and improvements that can be made prior to a real-world incident. CHHS’ Exercise and Training team will lead development and evaluation of the exercise, working closely with PGCHD to assess desired goals and objectives.
The Center provided similar services for Montgomery County in April 2014, simulating a POD activation in conjunction with the county’s Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
With more than 50 legal and public health professionals on staff, CHHS routinely works with hospitals and local health departments to develop emergency policies, as well as conduct and evaluate exercises to test response capabilities. The Center’s public health clients have included the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, the Maryland Region III Health and Medical Task Force, the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, the Carroll County Health Department, the Baltimore City Health Department, and many area hospitals. For several years, CHHS has also hosted an annual conference with the Middle Atlantic Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases on current issues facing the public health research community. Additionally, through the University of Maryland, Francis King Carey School of Law, the Center also developed and continues to teach the course Law and Policy of Emergency Public Health Response.
The Center looks forward to working collaboratively with the Prince George’s County Health Department on this and future projects to improve the health and welfare of citizens in the region.