Preparedness Capabilities

Hamilton County Health Department implements the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Public Health Preparedness Capabilities: National Standards for State and Local Planning, March 2011. These capabilities are cross-walked with those of hospitals and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to ensure a unified and all-hazards approach. The coordinator works closely with Emergency Management to contribute to the county Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan. During planning initiatives, the Hamilton County Health Department incorporates the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) and applies the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation System (HSEEP) model.

The Hamilton County Health Department currently participates in the CDC's Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) grant funding opportunity to develop and sustain a flexible mass dispensing strategy. CRI funds are used by the Department to staff a part-time planning assistant who also serves as a volunteer coordinator.

Below you will find information on how the Department implements the CDC's capabilities based planning as well as links to important preparedness references and other department programs.

Volunteer Management
To support the agency's response to mass counter-measure dispensing incidents, the Department coordinates volunteers through volunteer:
  • Identification
  • Recruitment
  • Registration
  • Credentialing
  • Verification
  • Training
  • Engagement

During an incident of such magnitude, the coordinator will work to incorporate volunteers form any agency. (For more information please see our Volunteering and Internships page). The Volunteer coordinator works to ensure volunteers find the right agency to fit both their skill set and actual capability based need.

Responder Safety & Health
Department staff members conduct routine activities with safe and responsible protocols when responding to an incident. If requested, the Department can also support the health and safety needs of hospital and medical facility personnel.

Public Health Surveillance & Epidemiological Investigation
During periods of increased or unusual reporting, the Department supports Indiana State Department of Health's routine surveillance including pre-event or pre-incident and post-exposure activities. Nursing and Environmental conduct investigations into local incidents when necessary.

Public Health Laboratory Testing
In order to mitigate local health threats and hazards, the Department routinely conducts various tests such as water quality and sexually transmitted disease. Locally, hospitals and select private practices input data into a state-wide system.

Medical Material Management & Distribution
Developed by the Department Environmental Director, we house a complete system to acquire, maintain (e.g., cold chain storage or other storage protocol), transport, distribute, and track medical materiel (e.g., pharmaceuticals, gloves, masks, and ventilators) during an incident and to recover and account for unused medical materiel, as necessary, after an incident.

Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions
During public health emergencies, the County Health Officer and Administrator in conjunction with municipal and county officials may recommend to the applicable lead agency (if not public health) and implement, if applicable, strategies for disease, injury, and exposure control. Strategies include the following:
  • External decontamination
  • Hygiene
  • Isolation and quarantine
  • Precautionary protective behaviors
  • Restrictions on movement and travel advisory/warnings
  • Social distancing

When implemented, these interventions will be widely distributed by public media and will be found this website and other applicable agency and social media sites.

Medical Surge
During incidents which place a demand on our health and medical system, we serve to coordinate resource amongst county-wide agencies including Municipal Emergency Medical Services, local hospitals, District 5 Hospitals and MESH. Together, this partnership works to ensure rapid assessment, transportation and treatment of victims.

Medical Countermeasure Dispensing
The most dynamic challenge to public health preparedness is developing and maintaining a county-wide plan to provide medical countermeasures (including vaccines, antiviral drugs, antibiotics, antitoxin, etc.) in support of treatment or prophylaxis (oral or vaccination) to the identified population in accordance with public health guidelines and/or recommendations. Fundamentally, mass dispensing requires hundreds of volunteers and the support and coordination from private and public partners in every jurisdiction.

The Hamilton County method is characterized by a whole-community approach and features a non-medical model (non-medical personnel can be trained to dispense medication) and allow for a single household member to pick up for the whole household. During requirements for mass vaccination, for example during a pandemic event, priority groups are established by the CDC to ensure the most affected portion of our population is taken care of first.

During a public health emergency you will find instructions and details on this website as well as through local media and on the Emergency Management Facebook page. Please see our Home and Business Preparedness page as well as our Training and Links page for additional information.

Points of Dispensing / Medical Countermeasures
As the ESF-8 agency, the HD is tasked with setting up and running Point of Dispensing (PODs) for medical countermeasures. The need for medical countermeasure dispensing at a POD or vaccination clinic follows a public health emergency that overwhelms the local health care systems’ available resources and results in the actual or anticipated depletion of antibiotics, vaccines, and other medical and pharmaceutical supplies.  An incident of this magnitude may stem from the intentional or unintentional release of a biological or chemical agent. Such incidents may also arise from nature, such as pandemic influenza.

Public and private facilities in Hamilton County may opt to be a Closed POD. A closed POD is not open to the public and is run by the facility to dispense medications to those associated with the facility including family members. Closed PODs allow businesses to continue operating with minimal disruption and eases the burden on public, open PODs.

If your facility has at least 500 persons needing coverage and you’d like to become a closed POD, please use the link below to contact us. 

Mass Care
When large disasters occur, Department staff may be called on to support and coordinate with lead agencies to address the public health, medical, and mental/behavioral health needs of those impacted. When activated, shelter locations and instructions will be widely coordinated by Emergency Management and instructions will also be posted on the Emergency Management Facebook page.

Information Sharing
The Department routinely tests and improves the ability to share emergency information with partner agencies as well as forwards public health alerts in preparation for, and in response to, events or incidents of public health significance. This communication occurs across a wide variety of forms and systems referred to as the “Communications Pathway.” Key components of our system include WebEOC and LiveProcess; both web-based situational awareness and information sharing tools.

Fatality Management
Department staff coordinate with other organizations (e.g., law enforcement, healthcare, emergency management, and medical examiner/coroner) to:
  • Ensure proper recovery, handling, identification, transportation, tracking, storage, and disposal of human remains and personal effects
  • Certify cause of death
  • Facilitate access to mental/ behavioral health services to the family members, responders, and survivors of an incident

The Department supplies the Coroner's office with 2 pre-position supply caches to support the initial response to a mass fatality incident. Additionally, we maintain a mobile cooler to support fatality management. See our Mobile Resources page for more information.

Emergency Public Information & Warning
Our Public Information Officer (PIO) develops, coordinates, and disseminates information, alerts, warnings, and notifications to the public and incident management responders. The PIO will submit press releases through approved media resources as well as various social media outlets. During an emergency you will find important notices, instructions and links to keep you informed.

Emergency Operations Coordination
During local events and emergencies with public health or medical implications, the Department Operations Center directs and supports objectives by participating in a standardized, scalable system of oversight, organization, and supervision consistent the county's Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan and National Incident Management System. Preparedness personnel also support all-hazard emergencies by staffing the Health and Medical desk at the Emergency Operations Center. See our Training and Links page for more information on the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS).

Community Recovery
The Department is currently developing the ability to collaborate with community partners, (e.g., healthcare organizations, business, education, and emergency management) to plan and advocate for the rebuilding of public health, medical, and mental/ behavioral health systems to at least a level of functioning comparable to pre-incident levels, and improved levels where possible.

Community Preparedness
The everyday activities of the Health Department facilitate a safe and healthy community. To provide greater community resilience, the Department engages and coordinates with emergency management, healthcare organizations (private and community-based), mental/behavioral health providers, community and faith-based partners.

The Department's Health Education Program features a wide range of informative on-line information. Annually, the Preparedness team hosts a fun and informative community session; keep an eye on our News and Notices (on the right side of the page)for upcoming events. See our Family and Business page to find resources to be more prepared. Also, find important information regarding public health promotion and disease prevent activity on our Nursing Department's page.