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Official Press Release

Contact: Bill Furney
(919) 715-4174

Date: June 20, 2008

NC Public Health Strike Team Deploys to Iowa

RALEIGH – A strike team of six North Carolina public health professionals led by the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHP&R) is traveling to Iowa today to assist in recovery efforts from damage caused by flooding.  Iowa officials made the request for assistance through EMAC – the Emergency Management Assistance Compact that coordinates interstate mutual aid.

The team’s plan of action calls for them to check in with Iowa Department of Health (IDPH) response officials in Des Moines, Iowa this evening and conduct as many as four Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) needs surveys during the next six days. The assessments are expected to take place in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, though the targeted areas are subject to change.  

"Conducting assessments to determine public health needs following a widespread disaster has become one of our areas of expertise,” Dr. Leah Devlin, the state health director said.  "The skills and technology we have developed through federal preparedness funding since 9-11 have allowed us to collect vital information after disasters in our state as well as in Florida and Mississippi.  Deploying a team to Iowa not only allows us to help another state in need, it gives us the opportunity to keep our skills sharp for future use here at home.”

The strike team will include a team leader, three technical staff, and two group supervisors.  In addition to PHP&R staff, the team includes Public Health Regional Surveillance Team (PHRST) members and a preparedness coordinator from the southeast region of the state, both of which are supported by local health departments.  The team is relying upon IDPH to create as many as 10 interview teams with vehicles to conduct household interviews.

A CASPER is a household survey using random sampling to rapidly estimate community impact and critical needs resulting from a disaster.  Several hundred households are randomly selected for household interviews to represent tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of households in a defined area.  The capability to conduct such assessments is made possible by using scientific survey techniques developed by the CDC and by using handheld computers to record survey responses and guide survey teams through unfamiliar places using GPS/GIS map technology. Questions asked during such surveys typically determine public health needs pertaining to access to water, power, food, shelter and medical needs.    

For general information about public health preparedness efforts in North Carolina and EMAC, visit www.epi.state.nc.us/epi/phpr/ and www.emacweb.org.

 

 

 

 

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