Safeguarding the public’s health is more important than ever. Whether the threat is a disease outbreak, environmental hazard or natural disaster, the public health system works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to keep Arizonans safe. Each year, the CDC evaluates state and local public health preparedness programs in a detailed report. This year’s installment is entitled 2012 State-by-State Report on Laboratory, Emergency Operations Coordination, and Emergency Public Information and Warning Capabilities. This document outlines each state’s ability to perform key laboratory functions, engage in emergency operations, and develop and distribute public health messages.
Our Lab tests thousands of biological and chemical samples each year, and is a cornerstone of our public health system. As a part of the Laboratory Response Network, we have consistently demonstrated its ability to detect high-threat biological agents like anthrax. Our lab team works long hours to test samples from suspicious packages and provide accurate results to our first responder community. As the report indicates, one area for improvement is our turn-around-times for pulsed-field gel electrophoresis testing- a technique used to identify organisms that commonly cause food borne illness. We’re working to improve these turn-around-times by ensuring we have the right staffing and resources needed to meet these bench marks.
Another capability addressed in this year’s report is Emergency Operations Coordination. ADHS has participated in dozens of exercises and drills over the past several years to prepare our staff for public health emergencies. For the third year in a row, our staff met the 60 minute target for Emergency Operations Center activation. Similarly, our staff successfully demonstrated our ability to develop and distribute public health messages in a timely manner. These examples illustrate our ability to manage public health emergencies and safeguard the public’s health during a disaster.
For our employees that work in preparedness, the work is never done. But I’m proud to say that we have achieved all of our emergency preparedness targets, and nearly all of the lab requirements for this year’s report. Thanks to all of our preparedness staff for their hard work and dedication.