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.
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.
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.
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.
When hospitals transition from paper documents to an electronic healthcare information system, patient records become easier to track and to link between clinicians and hospitals. However, these advanced capabilities and benefits involve certain risks - higher costs, program failures, staffing needs, and security concerns. Protecting sensitive information from potential threats remains a high priority, regardless of what system is in place.
Paramedics acquire a wealth of skills and knowledge, but their tasks are physically demanding and the risk of injury is high. Rather than discarding their training and starting over, these skilled professionals instead could transition to higher-level, less-strenuous job positions. With a few changes, hospitals and communities can continue to move these valuable resources up the ladder.
When multiagency meetings take time away from everyday tasks, productivity may decrease - but only temporarily. Those participating in such meetings should recognize, though, that the productivity lost that day usually will be reimbursed, with interest, when the same participants simultaneously respond to future incidents.