Lab Matters Spring 2020 - Page 28

PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE The LRN: Positioned to Respond to the Next Threat By Jennifer Diethelm, MPH, specialist, Laboratory Response Network The LRN is the nation’s laboratory emergency response system for biological, chemical and radiological threats and for other public emergencies such as natural disasters. Established by APHL, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to improve US readiness for all-hazards threats, the LRN remains a valuable resource for public health laboratories and officials as well as law enforcement. Members of the LRN include: • local, state and federal public health laboratories • clinical, agricultural, environmental and veterinary laboratories • military and international laboratory centers. Erin Swaney explains the flowchart for sample inactivation during a training for biothreat team members Wanda Songy, Garrick Gillispie and Mark Mergen The Laboratory Response Network (LRN) has repeatedly proven its ability to respond to diverse threats, beginning with the 2001 anthrax attacks and continuing through H1N1 influenza, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Ebola and Zika. Simultaneously, the LRN’s chemical threats preparedness component has taken on public health responses to polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), toxic metal exposures and the ongoing opioid crisis. Although the LRN and its resources have been used primarily in the United States, the flexibility of the LRN model offers untapped potential to scale response capabilities to support smaller, more remote jurisdictions or larger international entities. The LRN provides: • Secure modes of communication • Electronic data exchange • Methodology development • Technology transfer • Workforce training and development • Rapid assay deployment • Robust proficiency testing programs. In addition, the LRN model offers laboratories subject matter expertise, training models, emergency operations center procedures, data exchange and other resources to optimize their response capacity. Laboratories can also benefit by engaging the LRN in strategic discussions to ensure that existing resources can be utilized to better prepare for and respond to emerging threats. No matter the threat, the highly successful LRN stands ready to assist laboratories in developing and maintaining their response capacity and capability. n The new assays and training provided by the LRN protect public health by deploying new technologies at labs throughout the US to respond to and stay ahead of emerging threats. The foresight to standardize reagents across the network is invaluable for public health.” Erin Swaney, Microbiologist, Texas Department of State Health Services Laboratory 26 LAB MATTERS Spring 2020 PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org