Southeastern Idaho Public Health

What is Public Health Preparedness?

The Public Health Preparedness (PHP) program was created to prepare and respond to public health threats and emergencies from various sources, such as: Pandemics, Bioterrorism events, Fires, Floods, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Severe weather conditions (hot or cold), and other man-made or natural disasters. The program is funded by the CDC’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response through the Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative agreement. Since 2002, Public Health Preparedness has evolved from a narrowly focused biological response to flexible and adaptable an All-Hazards Response guided by CDC's Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning. The all-hazards approach is preferable, since our response to most incidents would be similar, whether it involves earthquakes, flood, a naturally-occurring disease outbreak, or a biological attack. Southeastern Idaho Public Health endeavors to support the emergency response to any and all hazards where our expertise will aid the community.


Our Mission

Provide public health emergency planning, response, and recovery capabilities to the eight counties and one tribal region within Southeastern Idaho Public Health (Bannock, Bear Lake, Bingham, Butte, Caribou, Fort Hall, Franklin, Oneida, Power) by supporting County, Tribal, and Healthcare emergency managers and the general public in all capacities available.


Emergency Response Plan

PHP is also responsible for the development of a region-wide emergency response plan. This plan is designed to interact with local hospitals, emergency services, law enforcement, Homeland Security, private industry, and others to plan for timely, appropriate, and well-coordinated responses to public health emergencies. Many areas of response are specifically outlined; including:

  • Epidemic detection and response
  • Use of the Strategic National Stockpile supplies
  • Vaccination/prophylaxis of the general public
  • General Shelter and Medical Shelter support
  • Medical Surge, Mass Casualty, and Mass Fatality management
  • Measures to address populations with Access and Functional Needs
  • Public Information and Risk Communications

Operations

It is often a surprise to people that preparedness is such a busy field. Realistically, there is a whole lot of work to be done to prepare for any type of disaster situation. As such, PHP is regularly updating the plan, working with local healthcare and responders, implementing and streamlining communications, supporting epidemiological surveillance, sharing information with the media, and facilitating training and exercise for numerous sectors of community.



Communications

The PHP also facilitates communications between local health providers, the State of Idaho, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These communications are maintained via a Health Alert Network (HAN) which is an infrastructure of secure Internet connections, fax machines and satellite connections. The HAN makes rapid dissemination of important public health information and alerts possible.


Epidemiological Surveillance

Public health professionals continually assess the general health of the community through various surveillance methods. By tracking certain diseases and syndromes (groups of symptoms) within the community, local surveillance provides the information needed for public health decision-making and establishing public health priorities. Epidemiological surveillance will also be managed by the PHP program by creating a 24 hour a day, 7 day a week communications infrastructure utilizing HAN to send and receive urgent disease and public threat information.


Public Information and Risk Communication

It is the policy of Public Health Preparedness to keep the public informed concerning health issues. Information is regularly distributed to the media, health professionals, and the public through news releases, public service announcements, e-mail, fax, and letters.

Public Health Preparedness has developed an All Hazards Risk Communications Plan that will keep the public informed during a public health emergency. The plan includes various ways to provide consistent information to the media and public through:

  • Public Service Announcements
  • Coordinated messaging
  • District 6 Regional Public Information Officer group
  • Media partnerships

Education and Training

The PHP program, the State, and the CDC continuously update training resources that can be used to educate Health Department employees, medical professionals and the public. Education programs are supplied in-person, by webcast, and via satellite broadcasts. These educational materials play a critical role in preparing for public health emergencies. Much of our training can be found on TRAIN-Idaho or Idaho LMS.

Southeastern Idaho Public Health (SIPH) conducts health preparedness training that encompasses many organizational levels throughout the agency and the region. We conduct this training to help prepare our staff, and response partners, for a variety of circumstances that may require jurisdiction-wide emergency response measures. Training provides an opportunity to work through all the real world issues before an incident occurs. Mid-crisis is no time to be ironing out the kinks in the system. One example of a training event is the Regional Readiness Rendezvous and Spring Thing exercise. This multi-day conference is hosted every April to provide healthcare emergency planners a venue for networking, learning, and exercising focused on the current issues in the field.

SIPH has an Initial Response Team that regularly participates in Incident Command training. This training includes both an overview of the Incident Command System (ICS) and practice of ICS roles through tabletop, functional, and full-scale emergency preparedness exercises. Training in the Incident Command System allows health department personnel to interact with police, fire, and ems using the same terms and structure. SIPH also encourages and provides opportunities for staff to expand their preparedness skills by attending external trainings at the state, regional, and national level. In addition to the above, SIPH conducts training for our volunteer Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) on various topics, including smallpox vaccination, Strategic National Stockpile, and other preparedness-related topics.


Contact Us

Darin Letzring
Program Manager
Public Health Preparedness
208-239-5275

Devin Hughes
Healthcare Liaison
Public Health Preparedness
208-239-5208

Ryan Richardson
Trainer
Public Health Preparedness
208-239-5295