In January 2014, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Forum on Medical and Public Health Preparedness for Catastrophic Events released a white paper listing seven recommendations to enhance the sustainability of preparedness efforts in the United States. The IOM paper reflects on relevant past accomplishments, the current state of public health preparedness, and future public health requirements to stay viable, sustainable, and effective.
Adequate defense for a bioterrorism attack requires fortification of the public health infrastructure as well as the establishment and continuance of a good healthcare system. With the potential to spread rapidly with and between communities, bioagents as weapons pose a significant threat to U.S. communities that require greater attention on a national scale.
Increased intercontinental travel and increased biological, pandemic, and other disease threats mean that countries must effectively cooperate and communicate to prevent the spread of disease within and between interconnected communities. The Global Health Security helps bring together global partners and address key issues related to preventing, detecting, and responding to such public health threats.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Lassa fever, and other pathogenic infections are just a few of the biothreats that recently have grabbed national attention in the United States. What were once considered foreign diseases are not so foreign in a globalized economy. As such, a national strategy for biosurveillance must effectively reach all levels of the public and private sectors.
Unlike the sudden release of toxic chemical agents, pathogens often are difficult to detect and prevent. Such threats evolve over time and have the ability to silently spread between communities. Identifying the threat early would help slow or prevent the spread of disease before it overwhelms a community's response capabilities.
Special events and daily operational tasks require a comprehensive understanding of the workflow process. Specialized products as well as pencil and paper are applicable for mapping workflow, identifying bottlenecks and redundancies, defining roles, and providing the agency staff perspective on how one unit's work affects the operation of the agency "downstream".
Survivors, responders, and the public are all affected by natural and manmade disasters. Peers supporting peers is the concept behind critical incident stress management. Because each person handles stress differently, personal and organizational resilience may require building a support structure with others who shared the same experience.
The American Heart Association reported that, in 2011, the average survival rate to hospital discharge for nontraumatic cardiac arrest patients of all ages after receiving treatment from emergency medical services (EMS) was 10.4 percent. As such, EMS teams play a key role in preparing the families of cardiac arrest patients for any news they may receive.
Communities have a new enemy in the battle against drugs. The growing use of fentanyl, which is causing an increasing number of unintentional deaths, is challenging public health agencies to reassess their distribution methods for lifesaving antidotes. Some changes include pre-positioning Narcan in the homes of drug users and their families.
Law enforcement as well as public health agencies could benefit from sharing interdisciplinary information through the state fusion centers. Four public health situations would particularly benefit from such partnerships: bioterrorism attacks; communicable disease outbreaks; suspicious activity reports; and the use of illicit drugs.