The Rutgers School of Public Health is thinking of those who have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The destruction and devastation caused by the hurricane highlights the importance of developing and maintaining local resources to train volunteers and responders to rapidly assess and control the situation. The Rutgers School of Public Health, Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP) is prepared to offer assistance based on what we have learned from Superstorm Sandy. OPHP has training available for responders, homeowners, and others who will be called upon to clean-up the devastation caused by the storm.
[Photo: Hazmat training by the Office of Public Health Practice, Rutgers School of Public Health]
The Rutgers School of Public Health, Office of Public Health Practice (OPHP), has a long history of providing emergency preparedness training to the work force of New Jersey and beyond, through state-of-the-art educational techniques and technologies. Known for their expertise and experience in emergency preparedness/response training, OPHP and Rutgers School of Public Health faculty have been called upon to develop training programs and train individuals in response to terrorist attacks, natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, and more.
Since 1987, OPHP has initiated a regional hazardous materials training center, providing hazardous materials emergency response training to fire fighters, police, and other emergency services personnel. After the bombing of the World Trade Center (WTC) in 1993, Dr. Mitchel Rosen, Assistant Professor and Director of OPHP, was consulted to provide guidance for the development of a plan to increase safety protocols at the Twin Towers by restricting access to the truck docks by trucks carrying hazardous materials. After 9/11, OPHP was instrumental in developing training for WTC first- responders, as well as providing technical assistance to the Port Authority on environmental and worker protection issues. To address bioterrorism threats in the post 9/11 climate, OPHP and the Rutgers Office for Continuing Professional Education developed a 40-hour Bioterrorism program which trained over 1,000 New Jersey public health professionals.
OPHP was an active participant in the response to Hurricane Sandy. OPHP was contracted by New York City to provide training to residents impacted by the storm, such as, courses that informed hurricane victims on how to properly remediate their homes from mold and other contaminants. OPHP received funding from the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) to train public health professionals and residents in the same skills provided in New York City. OPHP also received funds from NIEHS to expand the Disaster Preparedness program to focus on remediation of issues related to hurricanes and other natural disasters.
During the 2014 Ebola outbreak, the New Jersey Department of Health called upon the OPHP to develop a quick response to the crisis. OPHP developed a “train-the-trainer” course that taught emergency responders, public health, and health care providers the proper methods to don and doff personal protective equipment. In just over one week, the OPHP trained over 270 trainers. Those trainers provided training to over 900 other responders.
OPHP has trained thousands workers on safety issues during hazardous materials and emergency response operations, as well as disaster response. Through OPHP’s innovative educational practices like “train-the-trainer,” thousands more have been equipped with the skills necessary to protect themselves and other lives during disasters and emergencies.