Friday, March 10, 2006
BOH works to link towns for emergency cooperation
As bird flu spreads accross Europe and the possiblility of pandemics seem less remote, Carlisle's Board of Healths (BOH) is working to increase emergency preparedness.
Boards of Health in region
to increase mutual aid
If a public health emergency overwhelmed a town's resources, would neighboring towns give aid? On February 28 the Board of Health approved a draft of a Town Meeting Article authorizing Carlisle to enter into mutual aid agreements relative to public health emergencies. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has stipulated that each city and town in the state execute such an inter-municipal mutual aid agreement.
Carlisle could be the town asking for help or the one providing it, with participating towns defined by public health regions already determined by the state. Carlisle is one of 34 towns in the Region 4A Public Health Coalition. If the Article is approved by voters in May, the Carlisle BOH will enter into an agreement with Region 4A, as well as with Region 3, which contains the adjacent towns of Westford, Chelmsford and Billerica.
What kind of public health emergency might require mutual aid? Some examples given by the state Department of Public Health are: an oil truck overturns in a nearby town; a Giardia outbreak overwhelms the health department of a small town; three adjacent towns must conduct regional flu clinics at a local mall due to a shortage of flu vaccine; or perhaps a food worker at a local school is infected with Hepatitis A.
BOH agent Linda Fantasia was scheduled to attend a state-run training session this week on pandemic flu response. She said that if Carlisle were to face such an emergency, the state Department of Public Health and its Division of Epidemiology would be available at any time to advise the local BOH. We are being "well supplied" with personal protection equipment, such as respirators and white suits, according to Fantasia.
Medical Reserve Core
The BOH hopes to have a Medical Reserve Core (MRC) database in place in the next several weeks. Through the upcoming Health Fair on April 9, press releases and by combing the census data, they will contact town residents, active or retired, who have medical training as doctors, nurses, emergency medical technicians, and also dentists and veterinarians, with the aim of creating a database of skilled people who would be willing to volunteer during a medical emergency. A large list is needed, because many medical professionals would be busy elsewhere, such as hospitals.
There are regional plans to create an MRC web site by the end of August. The first MRC in Massachusetts was organized in 2003 on Cape Cod, and there are currently about 390 across the country. Billerica, Chelmsford and Westford all belong to an MRC group of seven communities on the web site: www.merrimackvalleymrc.org. More information is also available on the national web site: www.medicalreservecorps.gov.
© 2006 The