Stakeholders from local, regional, and state public health, emergency management, homeland security, healthcare systems, mental health services, and academia came together to develop the Texas Tool for Public Health Risk Assessment. Counties in the Dallas and Houston Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) served as pilot sites and completed the Texas Tool by inputting their scores for 15 public health preparedness capabilities and scoring availability of needed resources for 41 hazards. Resulting information provided top public health hazards based on hazard and residual risk scores, capability gaps, and resource gaps. However, reporting and use of information with external stakeholders for mitigation planning needed to be addressed.
As an academic practice partner, the USA Center at Texas A&M worked with the two MSAs to create at strategy for using data from the tool with counties and MSAs in the mitigation planning process. The overall process resulted in several documents, including the Texas Tool County Profile, which reports and explains the Texas Tool results. It also explains how each county's hazard risk, residual risk, hazard capability, and resource scores align with other counties in the MSA. The MSA level profile was created to report regional information related to the Texas Tool. These profiles, in combination with an Intervention Strategies and Activities Document and Mitigation Planning and Reporting Template, allow counties and MSAs to consider and begin implementation of strategies based on the Texas Tool results.
In an effort to better prepare Texans for emergencies, the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health USA Center for Rural Public Health Preparedness recently completed an extensive tour of Texas, conducting regional tabletop exercises involving an Ebola scenario in each of the public health regions of the state.
In partnership with the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service Emergency Services Training Institute, the USA Center led a team of Observer/Controllers (O/C's) in developing and delivering tabletop exercises designed to provide and opportunity for participants to review current Ebola and other high consequence infectious diseases planning strategies, assess levels of preparedness and response and identify gaps.
The USA Center and the South Dakota Department of Health began a partnership in 2006 to provide technical assistance and training to the health department and its various stakeholder groups on a number of public health preparedness issues. During the past 6 years, the USA Center has focused on assisting the Department build relationships with the Sioux Tribes located in South Dakota. The Center facilitates Rural Preparedness Roundtables to identify community strengths and challenges, develops and directs tabletop exercises, and provides technical assistance on public health preparedness planning, including risk communication, pandemic influenza, and community resilience. To date, the Center and the Department of Health have reached out to and provided technical assistance to 5 of the 9 tribes located within South Dakota: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, and the Sisseton-Wahpeton- Oyate Sioux Tribe.
Barbara J. Quiram, Ph.D., USA Center Director, has partnered with the Bush School of Government and Public Service to conduct a scoping study on the impact of emergency medical practice overseas on medical practitioners. The aim of the study is to gain a greater understanding of the practical pressures (and opportunities) facing medical staff in emergency situations overseas, and to identify areas for possible pre-deployment practice experience.
Through a sub-award from the Center on Conflict and Development at TAMU and the USAID, the USA Center is piloting strategies using mHealth messaging to reach vulnerable populations through cell phone usage. This project, conducted in El Salvador, will provide data on the effectiveness of the technology as a tool to engage groups and increase compliance through a text messaging strategy.
The USA Center designs, develops, and delivers training to a broad range of stakeholders at the state, local, and tribal levels. Each training is developed in partnerships with input from the target audience to meet the unique needs of that workforce. For a list of on-line trainings currently available, http://www.usacenter.org/elearning.html.