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National model for emergency preparedness

June 24, 2009

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University and its Sindecuse Health Center are part of a regional coalition that has been designated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a "2008 Model Community Linking EMS and Public Health."

Michigan's 5th District Medical Response Coalition, which includes WMU, received the designation along with six other communities across the country.

Working together in crises

The CDC's Terrorism Injuries: Information, Dissemination and Exchange announced the designation as part of its model community program, which identifies towns, counties and similar jurisdictions that model how emergency medical services can work with other safety and public health agencies in times of disaster.

"Some of the kudos for this honor go to the Sindecuse Health Center's emergency preparedness team and countless faculty and staff members across WMU's campus," says Carol Eddy, health center director. "Their dedication to helping the University and broader community prepare for emergencies is phenomenal."

Eddy notes that during crises, local hospitals, emergency departments, university health centers and first responders play a vital role on the front lines of emergency care. The role of public health also is critical, and the model community program is one way to identify communities where there are strong public health and medical partnerships working together to respond to large-scale crises.

Michigan's 5th District Medical Response Coalition

Michigan's 5th District Medical Response Coalition serves the state's nine southwestern counties and is based in the University Medical and Health Sciences Center building on WMU's Oakland Drive Campus. The coalition includes hospitals, public health departments, emergency management services, law enforcement and others who collaborate to assure and improve emergency and medical responses to all types of disasters.

The 5th district was singled out for "establishing and implementing effective strategies that enhance collaboration and strengthen the relationship between public health and emergency care, thereby serving as an example to other communities to promote the improvement of daily operations and disaster preparedness nationwide."

Other 2008 model communities

  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Indiana County, Pa.
  • Aurora, Colo.
  • Danbury, Conn.
  • Southern New Jersey

Model community program

The model community program was created in 2006 to address the urgent need to develop and exchange information about injuries resulting from terrorist events. This information includes community strategies to improve public safety, public health, clinical management and health-care system preparedness in the event of mass-casualty incidents.

The program named seven model communities its inaugural year and five more in 2007. Each of those communities, along with the seven designated last year, has been successful in strengthening the relationship and collaboration between public health and the emergency-care community to improve daily operations and disaster preparedness for their communities.

Many of these communities share common features:

  • Strong medical oversight on both public health and emergency care
  • A desire and an effort to educate both emergency care and public health providers about each other's role
  • Recognition of the role of and a commitment to developing and maintaining relationships between leadership through regular meetings, team-building exercises, and planning
  • Bringing community stakeholders (businesses, clinics, universities and others) into the planning process
  • Creating disaster plans that were developed locally, involve public health and emergency care, and that are repeatedly drilled
  • Aggressively pursuing and securing funding

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, (269) 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400