Health and Human Services
Bucks County Health Department
-- Main --Bureau of Personal Health and Public Health Preparedness -- Bureau of Environmental Health --
Public Health Preparedness
Suzanne Hecker, MPH, CPH
Public Health Bioterrorism Coordinator
The Bioterrorism Program, now called the Public Health Preparedness Program, was created in the Bucks County Department of Health
(BCDH) in the year 2002, following the intentional release of the Anthrax
germ in several US cities in 2001. The Program Mission is to prepare and
respond to acts of bioterrorism of any type in order to protect the health
of Bucks County residents, which also is the primary mission of Bucks County
Department of Health.
The Public Health Preparedness Program is also charged with the preparation of
a plan for the distribution of the components of the Strategic National
Stockpile, in coordination with federal, state other county agencies
and departments for the prophylaxis and treatment of county residents
in the event that an act of bioterrorism succeeds, or if there is
a disease epidemic or any other public health disaster emergency
in our communities. The Bioterrorism Program plans are consistent
with those of Bucks County Emergency Management Agency.
The BCDH Public Health Preparedness Program has a Coordinator,
who is charged primarily with planning and directing the Program. The program is part of the Bureau of Personal Health.
The program activities are organized into the following six focus areas:
- Focus Area A Preparedness Planning and Readiness Assessment
Under this program area, our activities are directed at the establishment of
a process for strategic leadership, direction, coordination and assessment
of activities. This ensures our readiness, inter-agency collaboration and
preparedness for bioterrorism, other outbreaks of infectious diseases and
other public health threats and emergencies. Our activities under this program
area include developing capacity to manage the CDC Strategic National Stockpile,
addressing security issues, and building distribution to areas in need if
it is deployed in our county.
- Focus Area B Surveillance and Epidemiology Capacity
In this program area, we are engaged in activities that enable us to rapidly
detect bioterrorism acts using surveillance systems, and through ongoing
and complete reporting by health providers and laboratories in Bucks County.
- Focus Area C Laboratory Capacity - Biologic Agents & Focus Area D Laboratory Capacity - Chemical Agents
For these focus areas our response plans include the use of the State Public
Health Laboratory at Exton in Chester County and that in Allegheny County,
PA as backup.
- Focus Area E Health Alert Network/ Communications and Information
Under this program area, BCDH has been connected to the 24-hour national and
states Health Alert Network. Through this network the BCDH receives alerts related to disease outbreaks
and other disaster emergencies. To enhance these capabilities in times of
emergencies the Program has added communications equipment ranging from cell
phones to laptop computers.
- Focus Area F Communication Health Risks and Health Information Dissemination
(Public Information Communication) BCDH senior
level staff will channel and manage information meant for the public, media
and co-response staff through the County Public Information Officer.
- Focus Area G Education and Training
The Program assesses and coordinates training needs for our county Department
of Health staff, as offered by state and federal departments and agencies
for improvement of our bioterror preparation.
In November 2003 and May 2004, our staff participated in a variety
of regional tabletop and field bioterrorism exercises. These are
designed to improve our collaborative ability with other emergency
responders like BCEMA, Fire Departments, Law enforcement, EMS, hospitals
etc, in the response to acts of bioterrorism.
We recently completed training in the establishment of our County Animal Response
Team (CART) to enable us protect our public health and agriculture in disaster
The formation and operation of the Public Health Preparedness Program was mandated by the Public Health Preparedness and Response Act of 2002. The main activities of this program include:
- Maintain County response plans related to public health emergencies
- Conduct drills/exercises to test the County response plans related to public health emergencies
- Disease surveillance and investigation related to possible outbreaks (natural or intentional)
- Maintenance of supply stockpile for a public health emergency
- Maintenance of the Bucks County Medical Reserve Corps
PA Department of Health- Public Health Preparedness
PEMA - Homeland Security
CDC - Bioterrorism Agents and Diseases
Ready Notify PA Bucks County
Click on links below for information on the following diseases and resources:
Bucks County Department of Health
Neshaminy Manor Center
1282 Almshouse Road Building K
Doylestown, PA 18901