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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


Do you have the right partners at the table?

Author: Taylor, Shhonn (HHS/ASPR/COO)
Published Date: 3/2/2012 11:55:00 PM
Category: Exercises & Trainings;

Earlier this month I was invited to observe a Regional Table Top Exercise for the Southwest Region in Utah. The exercise, “Where do they go?” attracted an incredible crowd to discuss and plan for a likely scenario to hit this community: bird flu.

The participants teamed up around banquet tables - local public health, local emergency management, fire/Emergency Medical Services, law enforcement, hospital administrators, the National Park Service, dispatchers, school nurses and others. During this discussion, these partners walked through what they would need (supplies, bed space, staffing), when they would ask for support (triggers) and they how they would request support (communication strategies). It was a great opportunity for frank discussion of how to come together to support the community.

Getting the right people to the table was as straightforward as planning a dinner party. In a planning a dinner, we consider who we’re serving (our audience); what foods to serve, including special requests, what others should bring; time of day; where to put all the people who would probably come to the party, etc. You walked through virtually the same process in deciding who to invite to sit at your preparedness table.

This regional exercise demonstrated what I observed earlier in my week-long visit – a sense of community and dynamic regional healthcare coalitions. The UT Hospital Preparedness Program has embraced this idea of working collaboratively as regions and the coordinators who manage these seven regional coalitions focus on inviting the right people to the table. This kind of coalition building is a fundamental tenet of Hospital Preparedness Program.

This was the first time some of these folks were together (national parks, school nurses, etc) they came away knowing new folks, re-thinking the plans they currently have in place and learning about a resource (Community Information Support Center-CISC) where the public can get information about how to care for themselves at home.

The exercise was a great experience for everyone involved. Getting the right people to the table made a huge difference. Does your community have the right people at the table?


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