Black Hawk County EM defers to local health department in bio-emergencies

Black Hawk County Emergency Management in Iowa takes on a supportive role in emergencies of a biological nature, submitting to the local health department as the leader of response efforts.

"We would defer to the local health department who in turn would get their advice from the state health department who relies on the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control," Emergency Management Coordinator Lorie Glover told BioPrepWatch.

On a local level, the Black Hawk County Health Department conducts regular research on the shifting demographics of the community to stay better equipped to provide assistance. Key studies over the past 15 years have analyzed the health status of immigrant groups new to the community, factors that influence infectious disease patterns and the overall health levels of seniors.

Additionally, the 2011 Community Health Improvement Plan calls for enhanced education dispensed to community members to prevent epidemics and the spread of disease. The plan also includes steps for an improved communication infrastructure that would allow for streamlined preparation, response and recovery during health emergencies.

In spite of these steps toward enhanced preparedness, Glover said countermeasures always shift to account for the nature of the biological emergency.

"It depends on what the agent is," Glover said. "That’s why it’s so hard for emergency management ... I can’t really make a broad statement that says, ‘Here’s what we’ll do.' It depends on what it is."