A public health emergency response drill was recently organized and headed by a student from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth). The drill involved around 100 people from law enforcement, hospital systems, public health departments, media and other entities that are connected to emergency response and preparedness.
The event began with a briefing on a fictitious chemical contamination situation and a subsequent planning meeting on the different roles that participants would play in the event. By the time the exercise was finished, it was revealed to the participants that the fictitious story was modeled after a real-life incident that occurred in Spain in 1981; that real incident cost the lives of hundreds of people because of cooking oil that was contaminated.
Robert Emery, professor and responsible for safety, health, environment and risk management at UTHealth, said in a press release: “This kind of drill is valuable because it’s important for people to know what’s going on upstream and downstream from their role in a public health response continuum.”
Kimberly Evans, the student that organized the initiative, added: “As a future physician, I believe it is important to be aware of how public health disasters can occur and how I can be prepared to respond to these situations. The Emergency Preparedness and Response Scholarly Concentration has allowed me to explore this topic with the help of mentors throughout UTHealth.”
“Exercises such as this provide an excellent training opportunity for emergency physicians, since they are the first physicians to care for patients during and after a critical incident,” said Richard Bradley.