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Health Emergency Assistance Line and Triage Hub (HEALTH) Model

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.

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Chapter 9. Limitations and Risks

In spite of research, it is difficult to build infrastructure to respond to something that has never happened. Despite the magnitude of the World Trade Center attacks and the anthrax releases that followed, bioterrorism response professionals warn us that the release of an infectious or toxic agent could produce a disaster of unanticipated impact.

One limitation of our project was limited funding to contact all of the medical call centers within the model's nine-State region for input. Instead, we focused on making sure we had input from public health departments within the region as the ultimate "users" of the model.

The great challenge to the HEALTH model is that of maintaining readiness for an event of unknown size and scope in the lack of any events. DHMIC, with help from CDPHE, is attempting to build this readiness through a repertoire of experience with smaller, planned public health events such as the Smallpox Vaccination Program Support Service and providing West Nile virus information. Funding for the technology improvements required for the model is also a challenge.

A risk for the program is that emergency response partners throughout DHMIC's service area could fail to capitalize on the model. Another risk is that other agencies will develop these capacities separately, perhaps producing redundancy, inefficiency, and confusion. DHMIC is actively trying to counteract the potential for this by including State and local agency members from all States in the region to assist in oversight of the model's development. DHMIC personnel continue to be active members of the emergency preparedness and public health community in Colorado, and other service-area States, to make sure that channels of communication are kept open to prevent this from happening.

Further development of the model would greatly benefit by implementation of all or part of the HEALTH model by other call centers and public health agencies. This would allow testing of its components and concepts in other situations, and could grow the experiential knowledge of the emergency response community. There is a risk that for reasons of resource limitations or for lack of foresight that this would not happen. Therefore, members of the Core Team are committed to publicizing the results of this research, and to future implementation of Rocky Mountain Regional HEALTH through further grant funding and partnerships.

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