Milwaukee bio-response relies on unity among city departments, organizations

While Milwaukee's established plan for bio-response includes components such as bio-surveillance, public risk communication templates and integrated information exchange networks, at its core is a unified effort among city departments and organizations.

"Key to the success of the plan is a broad and strong partnership across the community with an emphasis on unity of effort between and among government agencies, non-profit organizations, the business sector and citizens in general,"  Paul Biedrzycki, director of Disease Control and Environmental Health for the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD), recently told BioPrepWatch. "This is accomplished through continued outreach, training and interdisciplinary exercise routinely conducted and coordinated by local first responder agencies, including the City of Milwaukee Health Department."

To foster this unity, the MHD has developed a health care coalition focused on emergency preparedness. Consisting of private health care, EMS and additional first responder agencies, the coalition expands bio-preparedness capabilities for the southeast region of Wisconsin through the collaboration of resources.

Public awareness is another crucial component of the plan. This includes providing key information related to the risks associated with biological incidents such as Ebola or pandemic flu so residents can properly prepare.

Although MHD is especially familiar with the unique attributes of the local community, the department also plays a role in state and federal efforts.

"The MHD participates ... on the Federal Bureau of Investigation Joint Terrorism Task Force Executive Committee," Biedrzycki said.

Similar partnerships have proven effective toward the improvement of information sharing, which in turn enhances early warning and detection.

The health department has spearheaded further improvements in bio-surveillance through "early adoption of syndromic surveillance, implementation of electronic disease reporting and close collaboration with private health care systems," Biedrzycki said.