Baton Rouge --- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given Louisiana a “green” rating for biopreparedness. Green is the highest rating, indicating that the state is fully prepared to distribute medications and supplies in response to a bioterrorism event or large-scale health emergency.
The response plan is a team effort between the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Bioterrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response Unit and other state agencies, including the Louisiana Office of Homeland Security, Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Hospital Association and Poison Control, as well as liaisons from the CDC.
“We are so proud of the hard work and dedication shown by workers in all fields across the state that helped us achieve this rating,” said LDH Secretary Dr. Fred Cerise. “This achievement definitely shows that Louisiana is moving to the forefront to become a national leader and model for other states to follow in their biopreparedness efforts.”
Louisiana received its rating by proving the ability of various first-response agencies within the state to receive and distribute lifesaving supplies in the event of an emergency. Those supplies, called the Strategic National Stockpile, are a federal reserve kept ready to use in the event of a bioterrorism attack or other outbreak. The supplies can be sent anywhere in the country at the first sign they are needed.
The CDC must approve a state’s emergency response plan before authorizing the release of Strategic National Stockpile medicines to that state or area. Louisiana previously had been given an “amber” rating, which means that emergency response operations are in place but have not been confirmed and tested.
Representatives from all agencies involved in Louisiana’s emergency response preparations hosted a three-day drill in March to test the state’s response plan and ability to distribute the Strategic National Stockpile. The drill was the confirmation that ongoing exercises and programs in place throughout the state have prepared Louisiana to respond to a biothreat or health outbreak.
Dr. Cerise, along with State Medical Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry, Maj. Gen. Bennett C. Landreneau, Adjutant General of Louisiana National Guard, and representatives from all partner agencies, announced Louisiana’s status during a press conference at the LDH Office of Public Health Emergency Operations Center Monday.
“We earned this rating by proving that first responders from a variety of agencies in Louisiana have the ability to work together and respond quickly and effectively to an emergency,” Dr. Guidry said. “The skills practiced here not only apply to our ability to respond to a biothreat, but also prepare us to respond to hurricanes, West Nile or other health threats that may or may not occur.”
For more information on the Department of Health and Hospitals’ Bioterrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response Unit, please visit the Bioterrorism Unit’s Web site athttp://www.oph.dhh.state.la.us/infectiousdisease/bioterror/index.html