June 2, 2006
Volume 17, No. 11
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In times of disaster, whether natural or manmade, coordination of emergency resources is key. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina last fall, it became clear that such organization was lacking — relief personnel and supplies from outside the region took days or weeks to arrive.
To avoid such a scenario in our region, UPMC’s leadership formed the Disaster Management Center. Overseen by UPMC senior vice president George Huber, advised by committees of UPMC experts, and directed by Kathleen Criss, the center coordinates disaster preparedness capabilities and the many emergency response resources already in UPMC’s portfolio. These include vaccine distribution plans, a central command center for all UPMC hospitals, decontamination of victims of a biological or chemical agent, counseling for first responders and the public after a disaster, and plans for “business resiliency,” or keeping the medical center up and running during a major disruption, such as a region-wide blackout.
Most importantly, the Disaster Management Center works with local, state, and federal officials, including the area’s military reserves and National Guard, to make sure that UPMC is part of any effort to safeguard the health of the region’s people in the event of a calamity.
In addition, the Disaster Management Center will continue UPMC’s long-standing relationship with the Region 13 Task Force, a coalition of emergency managers from 13 western Pennsylvania counties and the city of Pittsburgh that share disaster planning and resources. UPMC contributes its medical and information technology expertise to Region 13 efforts.
The UPMC Disaster Management Center also will share its expertise beyond the southwestern Pennsylvania region by working with the medical subcommittee of the nation’s first Regional Joint Readiness Center, under development at the 911th Airlift Wing of the Air Force Reserve in Moon Township. The Regional Joint Readiness Center, announced just days after Hurricane Katrina, is being configured to ensure a quick response to natural or manmade disasters anywhere in the eastern United States..