It is the responsibility of local health departments to develop effective plans and resources at a local and regional level to create defense against Bioterrorism, other outbreaks of infectious disease and other public health threats and emergencies. Development of the Public Health Infrastructure is a key component in strengthening the nations Homeland Security.
Regional and local planning has been an integral aspect of this planning and organization. A local “Task Force” has been established that meets regularly to discuss issues, concerns, and planning for the citizens of Van Wert County. Agencies that participate in this task force are representatives from the: Van Wert County General Health District, Van Wert County Hospital, EMA, City Police, Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol, Van Wert City Fire/EMS and County Fire and EMS Departments, Mental Health and the Van Wert County Commissioners.
The health department also receives monies through the Public Health Infrastructure Grant. Focus areas under this grant include: Interoperable Communications; Community Preparedness and Participation; Epidemiological Surveillance and Investigation; Mass Prophylaxis; Isolation and Quarantine; Emergency Public Information and Warning; and Pandemic Influenza Planning.
Additionally, Health Department officials from all 18 counties in the Northwest Ohio Region are meeting and working together to develop regional planning, and uniform response and approach to Bioterrorism and Emergency Readiness.
The role of public health in any emergency, be it man-made or natural, (including a Bioterrorism event), is an extension of the general mission of public health: to promote physical and mental health and prevent disease, injury, and disability. A prepared workforce is an essential component in strengthening our public health system. The more health departments are prepared the better the community is protected.