Preparedness activities are well underway in North Central North Dakota. First District Health Unit’s Emergency Operations Plan addresses a number of medical issues including specific responses to bioterrorism.
As with any emergency, a coordinated response will be conducted with fire, police, health care providers and other public agencies. In the case of bioterrorism, First District Health Unit will rely on detection, surveillance, laboratory analysis, emergency response, treatment, and communication with the public. There is no doubt that the critical element in responding to a bioterrorist attack is early detection and recognition. The First District Health Unit is working with local, state and federal officials to expand our surveillance systems to detect unusual or suspicious disease occurrences.
Additionally, a rapid alert system to receive and pass information among physicians, other health care providers and health officials is being planned. Specific information about the unusual diseases that might be the result of a bioterrorist attack is available for distribution to all local emergency rooms and to every physician in our seven-county region, as well as to other health care providers. Hopefully, we will never need to use the preparation plans being developed. However, it is critical that we are well prepared. The First District Health Unit will continue to fulfill its essential role in emergency preparedness.