Preparedness

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 https://www.mass.gov/news/state-health-officials-announce-fourth-case-of-west-nile-virus-in-massachusetts

October may be over, but...

You can still access our Scary Simple October tools for collaboration materials here!

 

Collaboration is important, so is ROI

Health and Medical Coordinating Coalitions (HMCCs) are collaborative, regional networks designed to support existing sub-coalition preparedness efforts and encourage regional cohesion of preparedness and response. Unfortunately, it is often hard to understand the impact of these coalitions until a disaster actually happens, so how do we convey return on investment (ROI) to our many stakeholders? 

Try Chris Holt's article in the Harvard Business Review from December 18th, 2014, where he discusses how Hospital Coalitions Save Money and Improve Care through coalition participation. 

Or, take a moment to review the Community-Based Disaster Coalitions Training program designed by the University of South Florida to support coalition building efforts and strengthen existing coalitions. Ask yourself, how can we build stronger connections with our partners and what role can the MRPC play in your day-to-day, as well as emergency operations?

Finally, Prepare Iowa can provide you with the tools to examine Capability-Based Training & Education Resources for Coalitions for all 15 PHEP capabilities. 

Find more Scary Simple Preparedness tools at: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/images/129398

October 3rd: Preparedness Month Materials Are Still Available

Preparedness month may be over, but the materials are relevant year round!

You can still get access to great preparedness materials through the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Office of Preparedness and Emergency Management (MDPH OPEM) by clicking this link: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/gov/departments/dph/programs/emergency-prep/personal-prep/

Here you will find Emergency Preparedness checklists, links for free preparedness materials, tools for individual and family preparedness, and Captain Chaos videos! Most importantly, for those who want to volunteer in their community, this website provides all the information they need to get involved. 

Be prepared year round to support your community, your family, and yourself!

 

August 1st News Round-Up

MRPC Discipline Highlights:

Boston MedFlight

For the entire article, click HERE

Courtesy of Boston Fox25


White House opioid commission to Trump: “Declare a national emergency” on drug overdoses

Link to the entire Washington Post Article


CONTACT
Christopher Besse, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency

christopher.besse@state.ma.us

Know Your Zone and Make an Evacuation Plan

Residents Encouraged to Prepare for Hurricanes

 

FRAMINGHAM, MA – As we enter the portion of the hurricane season that traditionally is most active – August through October -- the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is urging residents who live or work in one of the state’s coastal communities, or near a river or other waterway that is connected to the ocean and may be impacted by storm surge, to learn if they are in a pre-designated Hurricane Evacuation Zone, develop evacuation plans, and be prepared to evacuate areas that may be inundated with flood waters as a result of an approaching hurricane or tropical storm.

 

“Evacuations in advance of a hurricane or tropical storm making landfall may be necessary due to the danger and threat of storm surge,” said MEMA Director Kurt Schwartz. “Residents and visitors in coastal areas are urged to learn if they are in an evacuation zone and to make evacuation plans in advance of a storm.”

 

Know Your Evacuation Zone

Massachusetts has established hurricane evacuation zones in each of the state’s coastal communities.  These zones -- Zones A, B and C -- identify the areas of coastal communities that are at risk for storm surge flooding from tropical storms or hurricanes. If evacuations are necessary because of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane, local or state officials will use the hurricane evacuation zones to call for people living, working or vacationing in these areas to evacuate. It is important to note that even areas not directly along a coastline may be at risk for storm surge flooding during a tropical storm or hurricane. Find out if you live, work or vacation in a hurricane evacuation zone by visiting the ‘Know Your Zone’ interactive map located on MEMA’s website at www.mass.gov/knowyourzone.

 

Make an Evacuation Plan

If you are located in a designated evacuation zone, you should be prepared to evacuate well before a hurricane or tropical storm makes landfall.  The rule of thumb is that evacuations should be complete before the onset of tropical storm force winds.

·        Know how to receive emergency information, including recommendations or orders to evacuate.

o   Sign up for your community’s emergency alerting system.

o   Monitor news broadcasts.

o   Download the free Massachusetts Alerts smartphone app from MEMA.

o   Follow MEMA on Twitter or Facebook.

o   Follow your local emergency management agency, and other local public safety agencies on social media.

·        Make a Family Emergency Plan. If you must evacuate, know where you will go, how you will get there, what you will bring.  Make sure that your plan includes provisions for children, seniors, and family members with disabilities or medical issues. 

·        Include your pets in your Family Emergency Plan. While service animals will be allowed inside shelters, household pets are not allowed in all shelters. Go to MEMA’s Pets and Animals in Emergencies webpage for additional tips. Remember: “If you go, they go!

·        Assemble an emergency kit. Keep your supplies in an easy-to-carry kit that you can take with you in case you must evacuate.

·        If you or a family member may require special assistance to evacuate, ask local officials about special assistance programs or registries.

·        If you undergo routine medical treatments or receive home health services, work with your service providers in advance to understand their emergency plans and to find backup providers that you might use in an emergency.

·        Keep your car fueled if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during an emergency, or unable to pump gas during power outages.

·        If you do not have personal transportation or a way to evacuate (such as public transportation), make transportation arrangements with family, friends or your local government.

 

If you live, work or vacation in an evacuation zone, listen closely to local and state officials and weather forecasts before and during a hurricane or tropical storm for evacuation information. If evacuations are necessary, local and state officials may use the evacuation zones (Zone A, B or C) to identify areas to be evacuated. If local or state officials call for an evacuation of your zone, follow their directions and evacuate to a safe area. 

 

For more information, see MEMA’s Hurricane Safety and Evacuation Safety Tips webpages.

 

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 towww.mass.gov/mema.

 

Continue to follow MEMA updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MassEMA; Facebook at www.facebook.com/MassachusettsEMA; YouTube at www.youtube.com/MassachusettsEMA.

 

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, visit:www.mass.gov/mema/mobileapp.

 

MEMA: Hurricane Preparedness Week Proclaimed

Governor Charlie Baker has declared July 16-22, 2017 to be Hurricane Preparedness Week in Massachusetts. This effort is intended to highlight the Commonwealth's vulnerability to tropical storms and hurricanes, as well as the impacts these storms can have on homes, businesses, and infrastructure. 

‘It is never too early to start preparing yourself, family, home and business for a tropical storm or hurricane,’ said Governor Charlie Baker. ‘As we enter into hurricane season, major storms can occur at any time, and making emergency and evacuation plans now can minimize damage and the impact on public safety’
— Governor Charlie Baker

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 2017 seasonal outlook predicts an above-normal number of Atlantic Ocean hurricanes this season. 

‘It is important to remember that regardless of the number of storms this season, it only takes one storm to cause devastating impacts in the state,’ said Public Safety and Security Secretary Dan Bennett, ‘especially if you are not prepared when it hits.’
— Dan Bennett, Public Safety and Security Secretary

Know Your Evacuation Zone

Massachusetts has established hurricane evacuation zones in each of the state’s coastal communities.  These zones, designated as Zone A, Zone B and Zone C, identify the areas of coastal communities that are at risk for storm surge flooding from tropical storms or hurricanes. If evacuations are necessary because of an approaching tropical storm or hurricane, local or state officials will use the hurricane evacuation zones to call for people living, working or vacationing in these areas to evacuate. It is important to note that even areas not directly along a coastline may be at risk for storm surge flooding during a tropical storm or hurricane. Find out if you live, work or vacation in a hurricane evacuation zone by visiting the ‘Know Your Zone’ interactive map located on MEMA’s website at www.mass.gov/knowyourzone.


New Storm Surge Forecast Products

New for 2017, the National Weather Service will issue storm surge watches and warnings to alert residents of areas that have a significant risk of life-threatening inundation from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane.

Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a tropical cyclone, and it can occur at different times and at different locations from a storm’s hazardous winds. While most coastal residents can remain in their homes and be safe from a tropical cyclone’s winds, evacuations are often needed to keep people safe from storm surge. These watches and warnings will help local and state officials make better informed evacuation decisions, and will help people who are in harm’s way because they live or work along, or near the coast, better understand their need to evacuate in order to avoid the deadly risks associated with storm surge flooding.


Make an Emergency Plan

It’s important to have plans in case your family needs to take action before or during a storm:

  • Communications Plan — Create a family communications plan so you can stay in touch and find each other in an emergency.
  • Evacuation Plan — Create a family evacuation plan that details where you will go, how you will get there, what you will bring, and what you will do with your pets.
  • Shelter-in-Place Plan — Make sure your family has a plan to shelter in place, which includes stockpiling items you will need to stay comfortable while you are at home. Be prepared to shelter in place for at least 72 hours. 
  • Make sure your emergency plans address the needs of all of your family members, including seniors, children, individuals with medical needs, and people with disabilities.

Have an Emergency Kit

Hurricanes can cause extended power outages, flooding, and blocked roads. You should have an emergency kit to sustain yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case you lose power, are stranded in your home, or nearby stores are closed or damaged. While it is important to customize your kit to meet your family’s unique needs, every emergency kit should include bottled water, food, a flashlight, a radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation items, clothing, cash and a charged cell phone. Depending on your family’s needs, emergency kits should also include medications, extra eyeglasses, medical equipment and supplies, children’s items such as diapers and formula, food and supplies for pets and service animals, and other items you or your family members might need during a disaster.


Stay Informed

As a storm approaches, monitor media reports and follow instructions from public safety officials with these tools:

  • Massachusetts Alerts App — Download the free Massachusetts Alerts app for your iOS or Android device. The app provides tropical storm and hurricane warnings, as well as important public safety alerts and information from MEMA.
  • Social Media — Follow MEMA on Twitter (@MassEMA) and Facebook for emergency updates during hurricanes.
  • Mass 2-1-1 — Mass 2-1-1 is the state non-emergency call center for disasters. Call 2-1-1 to find out about shelter locations, travel restrictions, disaster assistance programs, and more. Mass 2-1-1 is free and available 24/7.
  • Local Emergency Notification Systems — Check with your local emergency management director to see if your community uses an emergency notification system and how to sign up.

For more information, visit the Hurricane Safety Tips section of MEMA’s website athttp://www.mass.gov/eopss/agencies/mema/emergencies/hurricanes/.


All information provided in this posting comes from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency for release on July 17th, 2017.

 

DPH Last Call to Participate in the JURISDICTIONAL RISK ASSESSMENT

MRPC Stakeholders, please do not forget to complete the JRA by June 30th. After completing the JRA, you automatically become eligible for a regional drawing for a $50 regional gift card! Check your email this morning for the link!

 

This survey is the first phase of a two-phase JRA process to increase the preparedness of the region and HMCC members to respond to emergencies. The next phase will consist of an in-person, half-day meeting to discuss the survey results and prioritize efforts to improve the preparedness of the region this fall. This is your opportunity to provide input on the priorities for regional and state action over the next 5 years.