Training for community agencies to plan for H1N1 and people with special needs

The Rhode Island Department of Health and the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (EMA) held the "Pandemic Influenza and Special Needs Leadership Training Program" during three days in mid-September, 2009.

National and state leaders, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), presented strategies to prepare for, respond to and recover from an influenza pandemic. The focus of the training program was personal preparedness education and continuity of operations planning for agencies and individuals that serve adults and children with underlying medical conditions. This training was made to be applicable to ongoing H1N1 response efforts.

There were 771 participants from state agencies, community agencies, healthcare providers, local emergency management organizations, and first responders at the training. The health department suggested all Rhode Islanders create an emergency kit of important numbers and medical information. Attendees also learned about essential items that should be included in the personal readiness kit. Community agencies had the opportunity to participate in a strategy session focused on developing Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans. The training program also offered seasonal influenza shots on the first day of the meeting, and EMA officials used the opportunity to promote their special needs registry to the program's attendees.

Attendees were also included in subsequent distribution of educational materials regarding H1N1 issues, such as the weekly briefing from the State Department of Health. Community agencies were encouraged to direct the people they serve to the state H1N1 information line when they lacked the resources to handle their questions.

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