Chester County adequately prepared to fight outbreaks
● By ACL
Chester County has received a perfect score of 100 on the 2013 Federal Technical Assistance Review (TAR). The TAR is an annual assessment by the Centers for Disease Control supported by the PA Department of Health of the overall county Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) program.
This represents the third consecutive year that Chester County has achieved a perfect rating and endorses the SNS plan that will be tested again next month in a full-scale, two-day exercise. On June 24 and 25 the SNS team will assess the County’s ability to coordinate the distribution and dispensing of mediation to the entire county population, based on the scenario of a mass Anthrax exposure.
The Federal TAR evaluation took place on March 27, 2013. The review included assessment of 12 SNS program elements such as Command, Control, and Coordination; communication and public information; and the core element of county-wide distribution and dispensing of medication in response to a medical emergency impacting the whole county.
“The evaluators noted Chester County’s excellent operational SNS plan as being one of the best in the nation,’” said Commissioners’ Chair Ryan Costello. “The dedicated group of professionals working on the SNS team ensures the effective and efficient planning, coordination, and implementation of this complex program, that is very important to public health and safety.”
“A perfect rating for the third consecutive year is impressive, as it includes the cooperation and participation of every school district and hospital, as well as private companies and universities in Chester County. It is a great example of a joint private and public partnership with the goal to keep everyone safe,” said Commissioner Kathi Cozzone.
“One of the top duties of county government is to keep citizens safe, especially during emergencies,” said Commissioner Terence Farrell. “We will continue to modify and improve the SNS program, learning lessons from past training, exercises, and evaluations and responding to changes in ever-evolving risks and threats.”
Chester County's SNS program is spearheaded by the county’s Health and Emergency Services departments. Facilitated and supported by the Aquila Strategy and Operations Group, the team includes key county personnel, county school district representatives, hospital officials, representatives of care homes, municipal officials and groups, private businesses, large corporations, as well as several colleges and universities.
During SNS exercises, Chester County also relies on a dedicated group of Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers who augment the existing County emergency medical personnel resources. The participation of this group is valuable for the SNS program and for any major public health emergency. Volunteers with medical and non-medical backgrounds are always needed, and more information about the MRC can be found on www.chesco.org/mrc.
Since early 2008, the County has had a dedicated core planning team and advisory group who have worked together to develop, train, exercise, and continuously improve their ability to ensure the safety and health of the county citizens.
The Chester County SNS program is part of a federally-managed system that, in the event of a major public health emergency, provides medication, medical equipment, and medical supplies to local areas to support the local response to the emergency. The medical emergency could be natural or human-caused. Typical planning scenarios include terrorist attack, pandemic influenza and mass Anthrax exposure. In the event of such an emergency, citizens would be given specific instructions, and in most cases, would be directed to go to various Points of Dispensing to receive medication.
Chester County is the first county in Pennsylvania to initiate a strategic planning process and has a Aaa rating on its bonds from Moody’s Investors Service as well as AAA ratings from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. Established by William Penn as one of Pennsylvania’s three original counties, Chester County has been named by Forbes.com as one of America’s best places to raise a family and is ranked the healthiest county in Pennsylvania by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute.