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SAFETY FIRST

September is Emergency Preparedness Month

September 15, 2014, 12:00 PM
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September is Emergency Preparedness Month. To mark this event, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announces the new NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Directory web page.

The page will help our stakeholders find resources faster and easier for preventing injury and illness among responders in the line of duty. The web page is coordinated by the Emergency Preparedness and Response Office (EPRO) in the NIOSH Director’s Office. EPRO has three main goals: (1) to be the Institute’s focal point for technical expertise on our area in emergency preparedness and response (protecting emergency responders), (2) to help with rapid and specific on-site support, and (3) to advance research into emergency preparedness and response to better safeguard responder safety and health in the line of duty, and promote collaborations that enhance current efforts.

This work has included support and new knowledge for responder safety and health associated with responses to Gulf Coast hurricanes, Deepwater Horizon response, Southeast Asia tsunami recovery assistance, anthrax and ricin incident responses, BioWatch and biohazard detection system alarms, and response supporting U.S. Border security. Through these efforts, EPRO supports NIOSH’s mission and expertise in responder safety and health.

EPRO is coordinating NIOSH participation, specific to NIOSH’s mission of advice and guidance for protecting health care workers and responders from job-related risks, as part of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) response to the Ebola outbreak in five African countries. NIOSH’s activities include the following:

  • Helping occupational groups select and use personal protective equipment and other protective measures.
  • Reviewing and clearing guidance documents and communication materials.
  • Coordinating with other federal agencies, World Health Organization, and volunteer groups on occupational safety and health.
  • Responding to questions from businesses on how to protect their employees during emergency situations.
  • Coordinating deployment and volunteer opportunities for NIOSH staff.
  • Helping develop a process to safely deploy CDC staff worldwide.
  • Giving healthcare facility design and engineering support for treatment facilities in Africa.

The office and its partners have published documents based on these responses, including the National Response Team Technical Assistance Document: Emergency Responder Health Monitoring and Surveillance (ERHMS) and A Guide for Key Decision Makers. These documents address the need for health monitoring and surveillance of emergency response workers. Another document, Guidance for Protecting Responders’ Health During the First Week Following a Wide-Area Aerosol Anthrax Attack, teaches first responders about protective actions during an anthrax release incident.

ERHMS developed training courses to help those who plan and execute incident response activities. All of these publications can be found on the NIOSH Emergency Preparedness and Response Directory web page. The directory page offers improved access to NIOSH topics and publications on responder safety and health, natural disasters and hazards, and NIOSH disaster response efforts. The directory also links to the Emergency Preparedness and Response Program Portfolio and other related NIOSH programs. Governmental emergency response resource listings are also provided along with listings for state, local, tribal, and territorial agencies. Visit the Emergency Preparedness and Response website, and be better prepared!

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