Emergency management for Delaware County, Iowa, takes on a supportive position for those on the front lines of biological emergencies.
"Really what we offer here is organization," Mike Ryan, Delaware County Emergency Management coordinator and District 6 representative for the Iowa Emergency Management Association, recently told BioPrepWatch. "My office would be in support of law enforcement's efforts and the medical community."
Ryan outlined two types of biological emergencies that could threaten the community: intentional threats and spontaneous outbreaks. For both types, the emergency management office would assist any department involved in handling the situation. Law enforcement would be a primary responder for terrorist threats, such as anthrax. For outbreaks, the medical community would likely head up the response.
"If it's a biological threat such as what we just went through (with) Ebola, our office would be in a supportive role," Ryan said. "It's not something that we would take the lead in, but we would be there to assist and help with the management of the situation."
Ryan said he directs the main focus of the office to emergencies that will almost certainly occur.
"I tend to spend a little bit more time on the things we know are going to happen," Ryan said. "I know that I'm going to have one or two blizzards this year. I know that somewhere in the county next year I'm probably going to have a tornado."
At the same time, the National Incident Management System enables the office to transfer these preparedness and response efforts to other types of emergencies that may arise.
"If you take a flooding event that affects one-third of my county, if you inject a different scenario that affects the whole county, we just expand our management and operations," Ryan said. "It let's you expand or contract to whatever the scenario."