PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS & RESPONSE
National Preparedness Month : Celebrating the Essential Work of Public Health Laboratories
By Jill Sutton , specialist , Emergency Preparedness and Response and Rana Rahmat , MPH , specialist , Laboratory Response Network
In recent years , outbreaks of emerging infectious diseases , natural disasters , environmental and industrial catastrophes and other public health emergencies have been stark reminders of why investment into the nation ’ s public health infrastructure is critical in preparing for the public health threats of today — and tomorrow . Public health laboratories are a vital asset to our nation ’ s preparedness and are essential for the early detection and response to public health threats . APHL collaborates across the association and works with key partners to support public health laboratories as they prepare for , respond to and recover from public health crises .
Every September , APHL , along with public health agencies and organizations from across federal , state , local , tribal and territorial levels , honors the importance of maintaining readiness by recognizing National Preparedness Month . This year , we asked two of our esteemed laboratory directors about their laboratories ’ approach to preparedness : Andrew Cannons , PhD , HCLD / CC ( ABB ), laboratory director at the Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratories – Tampa ( BPHL-Tampa ), and Anthony Tran , DrPH , MPH , D ( ABMM ), laboratory director for the California Department of Public Health ’ s ( CDPH ’ s ) Center for Laboratory Sciences .
What does preparedness mean to your public health laboratory ?
Cannons : Basically , preparedness is a state of readiness to try and mitigate the curve balls that are thrown at us every now and then . In Florida , hurricanes are one of our biggest threats and something we prepare for every year . Here at the BPHL-Tampa , every section has a hurricane plan for how to prepare their section should a storm threaten . We ensure our generators are fully functional and diesel tanks are full , and we test our notification system to ensure all staff can be notified and updated on the situation at all times . We also ensure that all staff are reminded to have a plan at home and be ready to evacuate if necessary . Staff are
Andrew Cannons , PhD , HCLD / CC ( ABB ), laboratory director at the Florida Bureau of Public Health Laboratories – Tampa ( BPHL-Tampa )
Anthony Tran , DrPH , MPH , D ( ABMM ), laboratory director for the California Department of Public Health ’ s Center for Laboratory Sciences
most important in the laboratory , and we want everyone to be as safe as possible .
Tran : The California Department of Public Health ’ s Center for Laboratory Sciences is dedicated to an all-hazards approach for laboratory preparedness . We have the only Tier 1 advanced LRN-B and Level 1 LRN-C laboratories in the state of
California . Preparedness is an everyday activity at CDPH ; planning ahead with drills , arranging schedules and ensuring laboratory staff , supplies and equipment are ready for operation at any given time .
How does your lab celebrate preparedness month every September ?
Cannons : It kind of depends on what is happening . We have a monthly staff meeting and make preparedness a major part of that . This year , we are looking into doing some other events and tying them into public health . Of course , if we are dealing with a September storm or major outbreak , all cards might be off the table !
Tran : We have traditionally not celebrated National Preparedness Month , however , now is a wonderful time to start ! We have an impromptu social committee and are in the midst of planning an event for September , so this year it will focus on preparedness and celebrate the hard work of our laboratorians who work every day to prepare for the next all hazards event .
How can APHL help your lab ’ s preparedness needs ?
Tran : It would be wonderful if additional resources were provided to the LRN laboratories and their staff . Ancillary activities such as preparations for wet laboratory trainings and outreach could use more resources and support from APHL . These could include templates and guidance / best practice documents on how to outreach and what is expected of specific tiers / levels of LRN laboratories .
How do you keep up staff readiness and morale at your laboratory ?
Cannons : [ We ] keep them involved by providing staff with ways to offer input , and exercise without over exercising .
32 LAB MATTERS Fall 2023
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