The South Central Public Health Network's Emergency Preparedness Task Force
Granite United Way's South Central Public Health Network (SCPHN) is a collaboration of five partner agencies that work together to improve the health and safety of community members spanning across ten towns in the south central region of New Hampshire.
The SCPHN promotes Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP), a key role in keeping the community healthy and safe and an essential element of Public Health. Through preparedness planning, training, exercising, and outreach, community members become aware of methods to prepare for a public health emergency or threat and learn of skills needed to respond.
"Living in NH, we often deal with power outages and road closures caused by weather-related events," said Colleen A. Monks, a Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the SCPHN. "It is important to provide the community with personal preparedness information before a weather event impacts the region."
PHEP conducts an Emergency Preparedness Task Force (EPTF) meeting quarterly. EPTF members include representatives from public safety and health departments, healthcare facilities, faith-based organizations, school districts, volunteer organizations, agencies representing individuals with developmental disabilities, and staff from the SCPHN. Each EPTF meeting addresses a training need, provides regional public health updates, and gives members an opportunity to discuss regional priorities. In addition, the PHEP Program at Parkland Medical Center oversees the South Central NH Medical Reserve Corps (SCNH MRC). MRC volunteers participate in community outreach and going forward will assist other Network scopes of work with promoting their initiatives.
PHEP also provides training throughout the year. Each training relates to something that has been identified in the region as an area requiring improvement. The Emergency Preparedness Task Force (EPTF) Meetings include trainings like emergency sheltering or psychological first aid that increase the knowledge of partner agencies and emergency management and improve their response during a public health emergency.
In addition, PHEP provides quarterly trainings to the South Central NH Medical Reserve Corps (SCNH MRC) volunteers and invites the local CERT groups and other partner agencies to attend. Having these groups train together enhances their ability to work together during a public health emergency.
"SCNH MRC and CERT volunteers have used the skills learned in these trainings many times over the past ten years," said Monks. "Each time a community experiences a major weather event, lessons are learned and community members become better prepared for the next time."
Communication and preparedness are key to an effective response to a public health emergency. Communicating, sharing information, planning and preparing for an emergency decreases the impact of an emergency in a community, makes for a quicker and less costly recovery and will save lives!
To learn more about the South Central Public Health Network click here.