Prepare for public health emergencies
In the spirit of strengthening NSW Health’s ability to deal with major public health emergencies and natural disasters, the Office of the Chief Health Officer delivers a range of specialised training and discussion exercises for the public health network.
Public Health emergency preparedness discussion exercises
In 2014/15 Health Protection NSW and the Office of the Chief Health Officer continued with a series of exercises focused on public health responses to major incidents or emergencies. These brought together Health Protection NSW, Ministry of Health and public health unit staff, as well as colleagues from other health specialities (e.g. pharmaceutical services, microbiology or toxicology, acute care) to tackle some of the trickier aspects of the myriad of fictional scenarios such as an extended power outage in metropolitan Sydney and Ebola Virus Disease. Fictional scenarios considered as part of discussion exercises are one of the best ways to test response arrangements, build relationships and identify planning gaps.
Public Health emergency preparedness training
In 2014/15 the Office of the Chief Health Officer delivered a number of key public health emergency preparedness training courses that included:
- The annual three day specialised public health commander course was held for 20 participants in 2014. The aim of the course is to enhance the ability of senior NSW public health professionals to effectively lead teams during responses to emergencies or major incidents. The course has now been accredited to enable participants to meet the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) Control a Level 3 Incident and Conduct Briefing and Debriefing competency standards. The course also reinforces existing emergency management concepts and arrangements including how to apply an incident control system. ACT Health has subsequently adapted the course, with permission, in order to provide similar training internally.
- The annual Public Health Controller emergency training day was held in 2014. The 2014 training focussed on the new Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza and its implications for NSW pandemic preparedness/response.
- The annual Public Health Officer and Biostatical training program emergency preparedness training was held in October 2014 for new trainees to the Population and Public Health Division. These trainees are the front line surge capacity of the division in the event of a public health emergency.
- e-learning modules in public health emergency continue to be available for all health staff to complete on both the GEM and HETI online platforms. A new online module has been developed in 2014/15 to provide guidance eon the intersection between public health and local government during public health responses.