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DHS news release

May 13, 2008

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Program contact: Mike Harryman, 971-673-1320

DHS directs $550,000 toward local public health emergency response needs

Public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services will use $550,000 in federal public health emergency preparedness funds to bolster local efforts across the state.

The funds are from the state's cooperative agreement with the federal Centers for Disease Control and were not spent during the previous budget cycle. Under the agreement, the Public Health Division must use them up this federal fiscal year, which ends this August.

"Our joint state and local leadership within public health agreed that helping communities meet local needs is the best use of this money," said Mike Harryman, public health preparedness manager in DHS. "The plan we developed focuses on a variety of preparedness needs, and will help fill gaps at the county level."

Harryman outlined specifics of the comprehensive plan:


  • Iridium satellite phones will be provided to county heath departments, hospitals and tribal preparedness programs this summer. The phones will be supported by DHS through 2010.
  • Amateur radio operations will be provided or enhanced on a county-by-county basis.
  • Incident Command System training, a nationally accepted method of managing emergencies, will be provided to local health departments, hospital personnel and emergency medical responders in locations around the state. An intensive three-day course on exercise design and compliance with new U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security requirements also will be offered.
  • Four hundred intermediate user licenses will be added to the Health Alert Network (HAN). HAN is a secure, Web-based multi-media alerting system and is the key communication component of the public health preparedness program.
  • Standardized signage will be provided to local health departments for use during activation of the Strategic National Stockpile. In the event of a major disease outbreak, medications would be obtained from the federal government and dispensed at 168 pre-identified locations. The signs would help people navigate the dispensing sites.
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) and training will be provided to local health department staff for use during a pandemic or other highly pathogenic disease outbreak.

Harryman noted that DHS also is using federal Hospital Preparedness Program funding in other ways to benefit communities. Some examples:

  • The Hospital Capacity (HOSCAP) Web site on HAN is being enhanced to allow an increased ability to track and display emergency department status, supplies and regional events. Regional trainings for HAN and HOSCAP system administrators will begin later this summer.
  • Materials are being developed to inform health care providers about the Oregon Health Care Volunteer Registry, which goes online this summer. Target audiences include licensed physicians, nurses, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians who would be needed to help assist during a major public health emergency.
  • Statewide disaster burn training, which is part of the state emergency plan for burn injuries, is being conducted by the Oregon Burn Center.
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) software has been purchased to allow rapid identification of the locations of critical infrastructure facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and fire and police stations throughout the state. This cooperative project involves the Oregon Department of Administrative Services, Department of Human Services Public Health Division, Oregon Military Department and Metro Regional Government.