Hot Topics for Preparedness

On Wednesday, May 8th the MRPC in partnership with the Metro Boston EMS Council hosted a conference from 8:30-4:30 at the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy. This full day, multidisciplinary conference featured key and emerging emergency preparedness topics and presentations. Presentations available from the conference can be found below:


-Metro Regional Preparedness Coalition- Who are We?

Jendy Dunlop, MPH, CHEP- Program manager

Tyler Bonaccorsi- Planning and Operations Coordinator

Presentation Link

-Merrimack Valley Gas Explosions- Lessons Learned

Mikael Main, MS- Regional Manager MEMA Region 1

Paul Brennan, NRP, CHEC- Emergency Preparedness Manager, Director EMS- Lawrence General Hospital

Presentation Link

-Fentanyl Exposures- Facts and Myths

Edward W Boyer, MD PhD- Director of Research and Academic Development, Department of Emergency Medicine- Brigham and Women’s Hospital

-High Consequence Infectious Disease/Bio threat Program

Eileen Searle, MPH, MS, RN/NP AGPCNP-BC- Mass General Hospital

Stefanie Lane, MPH, MS- Mass General Hospital

Presentation Link

-The impact of “Trauma” on First Responders

Marlene Kenney, LICSW- MA Coordinator, Trauma and Loss Counseling Service- Riverside Trauma Center

Most Measles Cases in 25 Years: Is This the End of Measles Elimination in the United States?

As measles cases continue to climb in the United States the CDC has elected to host an upcoming clinical outreach and communication activity (COCA) call. The webinar is designed to help clinicians learn what makes 2019 a historic year for measles, and what they can do to help identify cases and stop measles transmission. This COCA will be a one hour scheduled to take place on Tuesday, May 21st from 2:00-3:00pm with continuing education available. For more information please see below:

Hot Topics For Preparedness

"Hot Topics For Preparedness" Conference that will take place on Wednesday, May 8th, from 8:30 am-4:30 pm at the Granite Links Golf Club in Quincy. This full day, multidisciplinary conference will feature key and emerging emergency preparedness topics and presentations and is open to MRPC Stakeholders as well as hospital emergency department staff, Ambulatory Care Facilities, EMS, Police and Fire. The conference is sponsored by the MRPC and is a joint planning effort of the MRPC and the Metro Boston EMS Council.


Voices of Experience: Around the World with Emerging Infectious Disease

On Wednesday, March 20th Region 4AB Hospitals hosted a conference from 9:00-3:00 at the four points by Sheraton in Norwood on emerging infectious diseases. The conference highlighted infection prevention from the local, state and global perspectives. It also featured a practical demonstration by Boston Medical Center on the complexity of donning and doffing different levels of personal protection. Below, please find links to the presentations from each of the speakers as well as a donning and doffing video provided courtesy of Boston Medical Center.


-Gavin Macgregor-Skinner, BVSc, MSc, MPH, MRCVS

Director of Strategic Partnership in Disaster Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Presentation Link

-Catherine M. Brown, DVM, MSc, MPH

State Epidemiologist and State Public Health Veterinarian, Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences, Massachusetts Department of Public Health

Presentation Link

-Nahid Bhadelia, MD, MALD

Medical Director, Special Pathogens Unit, Boston Medical Center

Presentation Link

-Kate Baudin, BSNRN

Nursing Director, Special Pathogens Unit, Boston Medical Center

Video Link

Hepatitis A Vaccination Resources

On September 26, 2018, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health held a conference call with Local Boards of Health to address the ongoing outbreak of hepatitis A.

Below is a list of clinical resources to support standing up vaccination clinics and 2 posters.

The Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences has a website with hepatitis A resources which you may find by clicking the following link:

The phone number for the Vaccine Unit is 617-983-6828.

To speak with an Epidemiologist 24/7, call 617-983-6800.

Hepatitis a resources:

Governor Baker Proclaims "Emergency Preparedness Month" and Encourages Individuals and Families to Prepare

The following press release comes from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

Christopher Besse, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

FRAMINGHAM, MA – Governor Charlie Baker has proclaimed September 2018 to be Emergency Preparedness Month to highlight the importance of emergency preparedness and to encourage planning for disasters and other types of emergencies. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Department of Public Health (DPH) will promote public preparedness throughout the month through various outreach initiatives. These efforts are part of a month-long nationwide preparedness campaign to encourage residents to take simple steps to better prepare themselves, their homes, their businesses, and their communities.


“The destructive storms that impacted the Commonwealth in March and the recent natural disasters across the country are reminders of the importance of emergency preparedness,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Preparedness improves public health and safety, can help minimize property damage and the economic impacts of disasters, and can accelerate the disaster recovery process.”


“The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Department of Public Health and other public safety agencies work closely with our communities in Massachusetts and across all levels of government to strengthen our preparedness for the next disaster,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.“We encourage individuals, families, and businesses to take steps to prepare themselves and their property before the next emergency.”


“Massachusetts faces a variety of hazards that can impact those living and working here,” said Secretary of Public Safety Dan Bennett. “By being informed of the risks and learning how to take protective actions in an emergency, people can improve both their own safety and community preparedness.”


“Emergency Preparedness Month is a time to think about, and prepare for the emergencies that may occur here,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Recent tornadoes this summer have shown the importance of timely emergency alerts and the need for residents to understand how to get alerts and information to stay safe.” 


To help individuals and families prepare during Emergency Preparedness Month, MEMA will promote four key preparedness messages: 1) Be Informed and Receive Emergency Alerts, 2) Plan for Emergencies and Disasters, 3) Build an Emergency Kit, and 4) Get Involved in community preparedness and resilience.  MEMA will also stress the importance of considering the unique preparedness needs of children, pets, seniors and people with access and functional needs. 


MEMA’s website,, features resources to help prepare for emergencies and information about the hazards common in Massachusetts. During September, MEMA will also share emergency preparedness tips on Twitter and Facebook, partner with MassDOT to feature signage along highways, and will support various emergency preparedness events across the state.


Be Informed

Massachusetts is susceptible to many natural hazards, including floods, hurricanes and tropical storms, severe winter weather, tornadoes, coastal storms, thunderstorms, earthquakes, lightning, extreme temperatures, and man-made disasters, including hazardous materials incidents, nuclear power plant incidents, power outages, transportation accidents, water supply problems, terrorism and more. If you live or work in a coastal community, you should learn whether you are in a designated hurricane evacuation zone. To learn whether your home, business, or school is in a hurricane evacuation zone, use the interactive "Know Your Zone" map on MEMA’s website. Being aware of, and understanding the different types of emergencies and disasters that can occur is a critical part of being prepared and staying safe.


Receive Emergency Alerts

Receiving advance warnings for severe weather, timely emergency alerts, and information during a disaster is critical to staying safe during an emergency. Every family should have multiple methods for receiving emergency alerts, including at least one with an audible alert to wake you in the middle of the night. Some of the primary ways to get information during an emergency include:

  • Local notification systems such as “Reverse 9-1-1” or “Code Red.” MEMA urges residents to contact their local Emergency Management Director to find out about local notification systems and how to enroll.
  • MEMA’s Massachusetts Alerts smartphone app.
  • The Emergency Alert System (EAS) which broadcasts information via radio and television.
  • Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) which deliver emergency alerts via cellphone
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radios.
  • Traditional media such as TV and radio stations.
  • MEMA’s Twitter or Facebook accounts and the social media accounts of public safety agencies in your community.
  • MEMA's website: and local government websites.
  • Massachusetts 2-1-1 is the Commonwealth's primary telephone information call center during emergencies. Call 2-1-1 for information about the location of open shelters, transportation or other restrictions due to a declared state of emergency, post disaster assistance, ways to volunteer or donate, or other services you or your family may need.
  • A teletypewriter (TTY) device, which allows individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing, or speech-impaired use the telephone to communicate.
  • U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Broadcasts are used for maritime weather and safety broadcasts.
  • MassDOT variable message boards and private sector digital billboards can be used to provide information during emergencies.

More information about emergency alerting systems can be found online at:


Over the coming weeks, MEMA will issue additional information to promote the themes of: Plan for Emergencies and DisastersBuild an Emergency Kit, andGet Involved in community preparedness and resilience. 


Governor Baker recently signed bipartisan legislation to authorize over $2.4 billion in capital allocations for investments in safeguarding residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, protecting environmental resources, and improving recreational opportunities. The legislation enables critical environmental investments at the state and local levels and will put into law essential components of Governor Baker’s Executive Order 569 establishing an integrated strategy for climate change adaptation across the Commonwealth, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness grant program and the Statewide Hazard Mitigation and Adaptation Plan.


About MEMA

MEMA is the state agency charged with ensuring the state is prepared to withstand, respond to, and recover from all types of emergencies and disasters, including natural hazards, accidents, deliberate attacks, and technological and infrastructure failures. MEMA's staff of professional planners, communications specialists and operations and support personnel is committed to an all hazards approach to emergency management. By building and sustaining effective partnerships with federal, state and local government agencies, and with the private sector - individuals, families, non-profits and businesses - MEMA ensures the Commonwealth's ability to rapidly recover from large and small disasters by assessing and mitigating threats and hazards, enhancing preparedness, ensuring effective response, and strengthening our capacity to rebuild and recover. For additional information about MEMA and Emergency Preparedness, go to


Continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at; Facebook at; YouTube at


Massachusetts Alerts: to receive emergency information on your smartphone, including severe weather alerts from the National Weather Service and emergency information from MEMA, download the free Massachusetts Alerts app. To learn more about Massachusetts Alerts, and for information on how to download the free app onto your smartphone,

This press release comes from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

West Nile Virus in Massachusetts

As of August 31st, 2018, there are 5 cases of West Nile Virus (WNV) in humans in Massachusetts. 

Boston and some neighboring communities are at high risk for WNV according to the Massachusetts Health and Human Services Arbovirus Daily Update. The rest of Massachusetts is at moderate risk.

To read the latest news on a 2nd case of WNV in Boston, click the link below for a Channel 5 WCVB article:

For more resources on how to mitigate your risk and monitor risk levels in your community, click the links below:

Department of Public Health Preparedness Month Campaign Announcement

September is Preparedness Month and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) will be participating by holding planned activities for their Know Plan Prepare campaign. To learn more about the campaign, the DPH media buy, community-based event, and available preparedness items, click below:

You may also follow the Massachusetts Department of Public Health on Twitter:

State health officials announce fourth case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts

Risk level raised to high in 11 Greater Boston communities

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) announced on August 27th, 2018, the fourth human case of West Nile virus (WNV) in the state this year. The person is a woman in her 50s from Middlesex County who was never hospitalized for her illness. Three other cases were reported on Friday.

Investigations conducted by state public health officials indicate that at least two of the four cases were exposed in the greater Boston area leading them to raise the risk level from moderate to high for 11 communities in the area. Those communities are Arlington, Boston, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Medford, Newton, Somerville, and Watertown, according to DPH.

“Several individuals from the same area have developed West Nile virus,” said Public Health Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH. “That means that there is an increased risk in this specific area and that additional people could become infected. We are particularly concerned about people over 50 and those who are immunocompromised as they are the ones most likely to develop WNV disease.”

On August 21, DPH raised the risk level for West Nile virus from low to moderate in every Massachusetts city and town. It was only the second time since WNV was first detected in the Commonwealth in 2000 that public health officials have raised the risk level statewide.

For those 11 communities now at high-risk, DPH recommends that local health officials intensify messaging to raise awareness and promote personal protective behaviors, target outreach to high-risk populations, and increase surveillance for human disease.

People at high risk for severe illness are encouraged to consider avoiding outdoor activity at dusk and dawn. Local boards of health should continue to work directly with their Mosquito Control District to determine appropriate control measures.

“It is extremely important for people to take steps to avoid mosquito bites, including using repellents, wearing clothing to reduce exposed skin, dumping standing water, and moving indoors when you notice mosquitoes biting you," said DPH State Epidemiologist Dr. Catherine Brown.

In 2017, there were 6 human cases of WNV infection identified in Massachusetts.

WNV is usually transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. While WNV can infect people of all ages, people over the age of 50 are at higher risk for severe disease. Most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms. When present, WNV symptoms tend to include fever and flu-like illness. In rare cases, more severe illness can occur.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health. (2018, August 27). State health officials announce fourth case of West Nile virus in Massachusetts. Retrieved August 28, 2018, from

MDPH Weekly Flu Report 2/16/2018

MDPH Weekly Flu Report 2/16/2018

Based on the MDPH Weekly Flu Report dated February 16th, 2018, Influenza-like illness activity (ILI) is continuing to trend upward with a slight increase reported over the seven days prior to February 16th. The percentage of ILI visits reported by sentinel provider sites is at 5.55%, a trend substantially higher than the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 flu seasons. 

The Metro Boston/Metro West area is still experiencing high ILI activity levels with Massachusetts Sentinel Sites reporting 6.01% in the Metro West area and 2.97% in the Metro Boston area. Type A flu continues to make up the majority of the laboratory-confirmed cases across the state. 

Laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations in Massachusetts also remain high at 56.52. 

John Jacob, a health communication writer and editor for the Mass Public Health Blog, in the article titled: Weekly Flu Report, February 16, 2018 is encouraging those who have not received flu shots yet, to do so. The article encourages people to contact their healthcare providers or visit to obtain a flu vaccine. 

The Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Partner with Nextdoor, the Neighborhood Social Network

The Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency Partner with Nextdoor, the Neighborhood Social Network
 Massachusetts Becomes First State in Country to Have Both State Police and Emergency Management Agency on Nextdoor

FRAMINGHAM - The Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) announced today a partnership with Nextdoor (<>), the private social network for neighborhoods, to improve statewide and neighbor-to-neighbor communications. This partnership makes Massachusetts the first state in the country to have both its state police and emergency management on Nextdoor.

Over the past few months, the Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency have been using Nextdoor to build stronger, safer, and more prepared communities with the help of Massachusetts residents. With a positive initial response from Massachusetts neighbors, the agencies are now encouraging more residents to come on board. On Nextdoor, the State Police and MEMA are able to work directly with Nextdoor neighborhoods to increase safety and strengthen virtual neighborhood watch.

"We strive to communicate with the citizens we serve through a variety of methods, including reaching out to them in a variety of social media forums," said Colonel Kerry A. Gilpin, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. "We need to reach people where they live their lives, and our social media platforms, including this one, allow us to provide important public safety information directly to our communities."

Nextdoor has proven to be an essential and well-adopted tool for Massachusetts residents. More than 2,400 Massachusetts neighborhoods are connected on Nextdoor.

"Having the ability to easily communicate with residents is vital to increasing preparedness and resiliency within our Massachusetts communities," said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. "With Nextdoor, we can send information directly into neighborhoods, which allows us to provide residents important preparedness and emergency information."

With Nextdoor, Massachusetts residents can create private neighborhood websites to share information, including neighborhood public safety issues, community events and activities, local services, and even lost pets. The Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency can post information, such as important news, services, programs, free events, and emergency notifications to Nextdoor neighborhoods within the state.

Nextdoor is free for residents, the Massachusetts State Police and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency. Each Massachusetts neighborhood has its own private Nextdoor neighborhood website, accessible only to residents of that neighborhood. Neighborhoods establish and self-manage their own Nextdoor website and the State Police and MEMA cannot access residents' websites, contact information, or content. All members must verify that they live within the neighborhood before joining Nextdoor. Information shared on Nextdoor is password protected and cannot be accessed by Google or other search engines.

The Massachusetts State Police and MEMA join over 2,800 public agencies across the country who are using Nextdoor for Public Agencies to build stronger relationships with their residents.

Those interested in joining their neighborhood's Nextdoor website can visit<> and enter their address. Agencies interested in connecting with residents on Nextdoor can visit<>.

Massachusetts Department of Public Health Weekly Influenza Update January 26, 2018

Please click through the link below to access the January 26th Massachusetts Department of Public Health Weekly Influenza Update

Weekly Flu Report 1/26/2018

Flu Season Worst Since 2009 Swine Flu Pandemicby Rachel Alexander, The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington/ January 21, 2018.

From the latest edition of the Emergency Management Journal  the article titled, Flu Season Worst Since 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic (Alexander, 2018), discusses the current outlook of the 2018 flu season in two of the hard hit states, Washington and Idaho.


Alexander, R. (2018, January 21). Flu Season Worst Since 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from Season Worst Since 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic&utm_campaign=Ready for a Nuclear Attack This City Is&utm_content=email&utm_source=Act-On%2BSoftware&utm_medium=email



December 15th: News Round-Up

Two stories stuck out today regarding the spike in drug-affected babies in NICUs and the impact of disasters on school absence. 

Kalter: Spike in drug-affected infants forces NICUs to get creative, Boston Herald

Summary of above linked article:

UMASS Memorial Medical Center has seen a spike in infants in their NICU with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). While this article is focused on Worcester, this issue is relevant for healthcare providers across the State. At the beginning of 2017, a statewide Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome was established to assess "existing services and programs in the Commonwealth for mothers and newborns with neonatal abstinence syndrome, identify service gaps, and formulate a cross-system action plan for collecting data, developing outcome goals, and address service and support gaps in the Commonwealth" (Executive Office of Health and Human Services, 2016). To view the Task Force reports and meeting minutes, visit: In addition, there are two Powerpoint slides which discuss the State's plan for addressing NAS and Health Policy Commission Investments in NAS.  


Executive Office of Health and Human Services. (2016, November 01). Interagency Task Force on Newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from

Natural Disasters And The Implications Of Missing So Much School, NPR

Summary of above linked article:

When it comes to natural disasters, the emphasis is often placed on the recovery of a community; however, full recovery is not achieved by simply rebuilding destroyed structures.  As we have seen with the latest hurricane season, students may end up missing substantial amounts of school over time and across wide swaths of an impacted area, "Across nine states, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, at least 9 million students missed some amount of school this fall due to a natural disaster, according to an NPR Ed analysis. The analysis compiled missed days from individual public school districts affected by natural disasters as well as estimates given by state education departments" (Samsel & Nadworny, 2017). The impacts of natural disasters on education can be severe and long lasting depending on the length of time students are unable to attend school. Reading this article the question arises, how does education factor into Public Health, disaster preparedness, and emergency management discussions? Stay tuned for more on this topic in the coming weeks. 


Samsel, H., & Nadworny, E. (2017, December 15). Natural Disasters And The Implications Of Missing So Much School. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from

IAEM Keynote on Las Vegas Shooting

If ever there was a time for validating collaboration among healthcare partners, the shooting of concert-goers in Las Vegas is it. For 10 minutes, a gunman shot at a country music festival crowd, killing at least 58 and wounding more than 500. Those attending the 65th International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Conference in Long Beach, California had an opportunity to hear from Ron Turner, Division Chief of Emergency Management and Safety with the Henderson, Nevada Fire Department, who spoke about the level of planning that supported a coordinated response among multiple healthcare providers and first responders. 

A combination of standardized EOCs and protocols, development of a rescue task force designed for hot-zone rescue operations, and surge planning among hospitals and public health were all supportive of what Turner describes as a "muscle memory" response. 

Lori Hodges, Larimer County, Colorado, Director of Emergency Management, followed up on the keynote address with a discussion on the cascading effects of an incident and how to develop plans that reflect the reality that incidents do not simply end after a successful response. Incidents may have long lasting effects that, if not planned for, can be just as impactful as the event itself.

It is incumbent upon all of us as members of a health and medical coordinating coalition, to review the recent events in Las Vegas, Orlando, Sandy Hook, and Texas and consider how we would respond as a coordinated entity to a similar incident. What plans are in place or need to be in place for HMCC members of all disciplines to respond effectively and cohesively to both man-made and natural disasters? What conversations do we need to have and who needs to be brought to the table? 

These conversations and planning efforts need to continue today in order for there to be a successful, all-hazards, muscle memory response in the future. 

To read the entire article on the IAEM Conference Keynote speech, please click the link below.

Emotional Keynote on Las Vegas Shooting a Highlight at IAEM Conference 


McKay, J. (2017, November 15). Emotional Keynote on Las Vegas Shooting a Highlight at IAEM Conference. Emergency Management.