Whenever a crisis happens, there is no time left for preparation. The ability to successfully meet emergency situations is mainly dependent on preparedness before occurrence of any disaster.
In an effort to better prepare Texans for emergencies, the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness recently completed an extensive tour of Texas, conducting regional tabletop exercises involving an Ebola scenario in each of the public health regions of the state.
In partnership with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service Emergency Services Training Institute, the USA Center led a team of Observer/Controllers (O/Cs) in developing and delivering tabletop exercises designed to provide an opportunity for participants to review current Ebola and other high consequence infectious diseases planning strategies, assess levels of preparedness and response and identify gaps.
”This has been an exciting opportunity to convene players and partners at the regional level to address a public health emergency using a Table Top Exercise format,” said Dr. Barbara Quiram, director of the USA Center. “Participants used new knowledge, identified gaps in existing response plans and procedures as well as developed plans to improve preparedness.”
Over 1,000 Texas professionals from multiple disciplines participated in these training exercises, including Regional and Local Health Authorities, Health Directors, Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Coordinators, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Directors and support personnel, laboratory response network personnel, fire and police, as well as decision makers for local hospitals.
Participants commented on how realistic scenarios were and that they focused on true “hiccups” that actually occur during a disaster or outbreak.
Information collected by the O/C team will be assimilated into an After Action Report for the Health Service Regions and the state of Texas to assist in planning for a high consequence infectious disease response to ensure the health and safety of Texas residents.