Hartford, CT - The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today announced that each of Connecticut’s five Emergency Planning and Preparedness Regions have been recognized by the national organization representing local health departments for their ability to respond to public health emergencies. Connecticut is now the fourth state in the nation to achieve statewide recognition. In honor of the recognition, Governor Dannel P. Malloy has proclaimed Wednesday, September 18, 2013 as Public Health Ready Day in Connecticut.
The five regions, comprising all of the state’s local health departments and health districts, met the comprehensive preparedness benchmarks required by Project Public Health Ready (PPHR), a unique partnership between National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). PPHR is a criteria-based public health preparedness program that assesses local health department capacity to plan for, respond to, and recover from public health emergencies. DPH served as the lead agent at the state level for the PPHR application process.
“Over the past two years, our resilience as a state has been tested numerous times in the face of natural disasters,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Local health departments have played an essential role to ensure the public’s health and safety during disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene. The investment they have made in planning, training, and exercising in conjunction with other preparedness partners, has significantly enhanced their readiness to respond to an array of public health emergencies.”
“All disasters strike locally, and local health departments are a critical part of any community’s first response to disease outbreaks, emergencies, and acts of terrorism,” said Robert Pestronk, NACCHO Executive Director. “NACCHO commends the state of Connecticut for being a model of public health emergency preparedness.”
Applicants recognized by PPHR undergo a rigorous evaluation by peer review. PPHR required each region to meet a set of national standards for public health preparedness in three key areas: preparedness planning, workforce competency, and demonstration of all-hazards readiness through exercises or a response to a real event. PPHR recognition confirms that Connecticut has a thorough and coordinated emergency response plan in place, that agency staff members are trained, and that the agency exercises the plan and uses it during public health emergencies.
Charles Brown, Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Directors of Health, stated, “The two-year application process provided a unique opportunity for local health departments and districts, emergency responders, hospitals, behavioral health staff and emergency management to be actively engaged and work collaboratively to better prepare the state for emergencies. The successful recognition of each region, along with their proven ability to work together to address real-world events, points to the value of the professional collaborations and partnerships that exist in Connecticut.”
In 2006, the DESPP Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (DEMHS), in collaboration with local and state preparedness partners, established five Planning and Preparedness Regions. The regions provide a structure for local communities to share and coordinate resources during an emergency. The regions are organized according to the National Response Framework, using an approach that groups response into Emergency Support Functions (ESFs). The ESFs provide the planning, support, resources, and services that are most likely needed during an emergency, including public health and medical.
For more information on Project Public Health Ready, including recognized sites, project tools, and resources, visit http://www.naccho.org/PPHR .