MDH Emergency Preparedness and Response News - April 2018

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Emergency Preparedness and Response News

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April 2018

In This Edition

From the Director

Cheryl Petersen-Kroeber

Finally, I can say it … welcome spring!

One of the rights of spring for public health professionals is the annual Preparedness Summit that the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) hosts each year. During this year's Summit, which took place April 17-20, 2018 in Atlanta, GA, there were 5 sessions and a poster presentation that showcased Minnesota's public health preparedness, resiliency, and recovery capabilities. Kudos to all of the presenters who made our state shine!

Another "shout-out" for Minnesota that I wanted to let you know about is the 2018 Outstanding Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Partnership Award. This year, that award went to the Minnesota Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) MRC, Minnesota Behavioral Health MRC, Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, and the Minnesota National Guard for their collaborative effort on the 2017 HOSA MRC Training Camp. The Outstanding Partner Award honors MRC Partner Organizations that have helped support an MRC in carrying out its local mission and have provided the MRC with more opportunities to participate in public health, preparedness, and response activities. We are grateful for the Minnesota National Guard's ongoing support of the camp, and appreciative of all the partners that have contributed to the camp's success over the years.

Finally, my thanks to everyone who took the time to fill out our EPR News Survey that was sent out last month. Of those who responded, 80% answered that they were satisfied or very satisfied with the information provided in this newsletter. The responses and recommendations that you shared with us will help shape this publication going forward.

Happy Reading!

Distributing Medical Countermeasures - Speeding Up the Process

Photo of Rachel Schulman and Jeff Shaw

On April 20, Rachel Schulman, Cities Readiness Initiative/Medical Countermeasures Planner with MDH, and Jeffrey Shaw, Senior Analyst with the Hennepin County Public Health Department, presented together at the 2018 Preparedness Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. Their presentation focused on how Minnesota has increased the efficiency of its medical countermeasures distribution program over the past several years. 

In the event of a widespread bioterrorist attack, CDC would send large quantities of medicines and supplies (“medical countermeasures”) that could be taken by exposed people to prevent them from becoming ill. However, these medicines must be taken quickly for them to be effective. Minnesota has worked with local, state, and federal partners to speed up the process for distributing medical countermeasures so that more lives can be saved. Improvements include the relocation of the state’s receiving warehouse, a contract with UPS for transportation, and the transition from paper-based to electronic systems. These changes allowed for the elimination of intermediary local distribution sites, and the freeing up of critical personnel and resources that counties would need during a public health emergency. The session was well-received by conference attendees from across the country.

How MDH Supports Minnesota's Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program

In Minnesota, coordination of the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) program is the responsibility of the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM). The HSEM REP program works to inform and educate the public, local emergency managers and responders about radiological preparedness. In support of this program, responsibilities are assigned to state agencies that have the expertise to carry out specific actions during an incident at a commercial nuclear generating plant. Counties within a ten-mile planning zone around the two Minnesota nuclear power plants have emergency operations plans and specific procedures that activate and guide various local resources.

MDH responsibilities include staffing positions in the State Emergency Operations Center and the MDH Department Operations Center (DOC). MDH helps to analyze and recommend actions to protect the public and emergency workers based on information from dose projections, and assists with communicating health risks to the public. If an incident were to involve an evacuation, MDH would be responsible for a broader array of activities. Such activities might include: coordinating environmental sampling with laboratory analyses; protecting the public from consuming contaminated foods and drinking water; coordinating with local government and health care providers; and, conducting health assessments.

To test and fine-tune these various plans an procedures, and to demonstrate Minnesota's readiness to FEMA, HSEM coordinates an annual full-scale drill that alternates each year between the two nuclear power plants. These drills are run using four planning scenarios, that vary within an 8-year project cycle, and focus on no radiation release, hostile actions, the initial plume phase, and intermediate phase scenarios. Aside from these required drills, there are multiple others as well; these may vary from drills focused on ensuring contamination levels do not enter the human food chain, to tabletop exercises focused on evacuating local health care and long-term care facilities.

For more information on the Radiological Emergency Preparedness (REP) Program please visit the MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management REP Website. Any questions about MDH REP preparedness, contact Amy Hass or 651-201-5818.

Climate Data Profiles for Emergency Management

The MN Climate and Health Program learned from state and local emergency management and preparedness partners that a major obstacle in initiating climate adaptation strategies is a lack of access to and understanding of climate projection data, which provide measures of temperature and precipitation well into the future.

In collaboration with these partners, Climate and Health staff are creating climate data profiles for each MN Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM) region including climate projection data specific to that region as well as individual counties. Available this summer, each regional profile will include a case study of a past natural disaster and how climate measures, like temperature and precipitation, may have influenced that event and what projection estimates may suggest for similar events in the future. This resource will provide emergency managers and preparedness partners a framework for articulating projected local risks related to our changing climate and support the development of climate adaptation strategies to protect community health and safety.

Meet the Staff

KaYoua Khang Moua is the new Office Manager in the Center for Emergency Preparedness and Response (EPR). She comes to MDH from MNsure, where she was involved in operational work, with responsibilities for leading and implementing a multitude of projects, and developing processes and procedures. A Wisconsin native who loves her Wisconsin cheese, KaYoua is happy to now call Minnesota home (and is happy to now live close by restaurants where she can indulge and enjoy one of her favorite desserts … yes, cheesecake). She is excited to join MDH and looks forward to learning about all of EPR's various emergency preparedness and response activities.

Useful Resources

Engaging Immigrant and Refugee Communities

Here are several resources produced by the Refugee and International Health Program at the Minnesota Department of Health to assist in engaging immigrant and refugee communities.

2017 Health Resources Directory for Diverse Cultural Communities
This resource directory of low-cost and immigrant-friendly services covers dental services, disability services, domestic violence services and sexual assault services, health services, home health services, hotlines, mental health services, and vision services.

2017 Diverse Community Media Directory
A quick reference for individuals working to identify appropriate media channels that reach a broad cross section of diverse groups including populations of color, American Indians, GLBT, people with disabilities, immigrants and refugees in the Twin Cities metro area and, to a limited extent, in greater Minnesota.

2017 MAA-CBO Directory
A quick reference for individuals working to identify appropriate mutual assistance associations (MAAs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) that serve Minnesota’s many diverse communities. Listings are divided by ethnic group.

Important Dates

May 15 - 16, 2018

Under One Roof
DECC - Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Duluth, MN
To register and learn more about the conference, visit the Under One Roof conference website.

Webcast Offered May 3 - June 12, 2018

Pediatric Surge Engagement Sessions
MN.TRAIN Course ID 1076868
One hour course offered at various times

For persons interested in learning about pediatric surge education materials that are in development. The course, which will be offered on eight different occasions, will also provide an overview of the Minnesota Pediatric Surge Plan. To register and learn more, visit MN.TRAIN at its new URL.


MN.TRAIN: New Look and New URL

Update your bookmarks because MN.TRAIN has a new URL and a new look! There’s no need to recreate a username and password, your existing one works with the new and improved TRAIN platform. The new MN.TRAIN URL is
Check out the updated tutorials and download the new job aids located on the Help tab for navigating the new MN.TRAIN.

Updated All-Hazards Plan

The MDH All-Hazards Response and Recovery Base Plan, which describes actions MDH will take in response to incidents that have public health and/or medical implications, has been updated for 2018.

Previous editions of this newsletter are available at Emergency Preparedness and Response News.