Public Health Threats
Are You Prepared?
What is MDA #31?
For public health emergencies, the state of Connecticut is
divided into 41 Mass Dispensing Areas or MDAs. Each MDA covers a population of
50,000 or more. MDA #31 includes Windsor and South Windsor. These two towns have
been planning and responding to public health emergencies together since 2002.
MDA #31 is a volunteer organization coordinated by the
Windsor Health department. Citizens who join MDA #31 pay no dues. They simply
register with MDA #31 to be notified in the case of a public health emergency
and given the opportunity to help out, if they are willing and able at that
Free training sessions are offered at least once a year in
each town to update volunteers on what kinds of emergencies can activate MDA #31
and how we might respond. Typically MDA #31 is activated when there is a need to
give residents medicine or shots to either treat or prevent an unexpected
disease that is in the community. In 2009 MDA #31 operated six H1N1 vaccination
clinics (three per town) over a 10-week period. We vaccinated more than 2,000
residents. Other examples of diseases that MDA #31 might help respond to include
anthrax, smallpox, and pneumonic plague.
If you would like to learn more about MDA #31, contact us
MDA 31 recently received its 2011 Technical Assessment Review (TAR) score form
the CT Department of Public Health: 94 out of 100! This score represents a 9%
improvement over last year’s score. Congratulations to Windsor and South Windsor
staff and community members who work hard to improve our plans every year.
Thank you to all the staff and volunteers who helped make our Snow 2011
antibiotics clinic exercise in June a huge success! We are revising our plans
and procedures based on what we learned. The turnout to staff the clinic was
amazing, both locally and regionally. We are grateful to all our partners.
Volunteer Activation Drill
Each year we will be testing our ability to
activate our volunteers. This drill is unannounced so that we can simulate a
real emergency and determine what percent of our volunteers we can successfully
contact. If for any reason you are no longer
willing or able to volunteer, please let us know – call Allyson Schulz at
Please be sure your phone numbers are up-to-date with MDA
Click here to download a registration form.
Want to sign up with Mass Dispensing Area #31 to help out in a public health
Click here to download a registration form.
Message from the Regional Coordinator
For the past six years, planning for bioterrorist and large scale health and
natural emergencies has been a major focus for municipalities across this
country. In Connecticut, this planning effort has been directed by local health
departments following the specific goals and objectives developed by the federal
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Connecticut Department
of Public Health. Plans have been developed for responding to and immunizing
our entire populations against smallpox, pandemic flu, and anthrax, and these
plans have been drilled and tested on a local, regional and statewide basis. As
we continue through our sixth year of planning, our major emphasis will be on
three elements: drilling and exercising plans on a local and regional level;
formally assessing the plans that have been developed using a Technical
Assistance Review tool (TAR) developed by the CDC; and training staff and
volunteers on the specifics of distributing vaccine and medications to all
segments of our population.
Toward this latter point of “distributing vaccine and medications,” the major
focus has been on how best to locate, open and operate a clinic site and on the
most efficient ways to get people to, from and through these clinics. This
process is termed a “pull” model, that is, getting people to and through our
clinic sites quickly and efficiently. However, over the past two years, rather
than focusing on how to get people to and through our clinics, focus has
been directed on how to get medications and vaccines out to our
residents, a “push” model. The theory behind the “push” model is that by
delivering medications to residents rather than having residents coming to
clinic sites, disruption and confusion are reduced, the pressures on security
are lessened, and volunteer efficiency is improved. This “push” model approach
was initially tested in Connecticut in 2004 by MDA #31 and the Capital Region
Emergency Planning Committee (CREPC). Since that initial test, various
approaches to the “push” model have been tested nationally resulting in a more
firm belief that using “push” and “pull” approaches in tandem may be the best
way to get medications and vaccines to all segments of our community in a quick
and efficient manner. You will hear more about these approaches in the coming
months at our various training sessions.
Finally, I want to strongly encourage everyone in both communities to learn as
much as they can about being prepared and participating in the various training
opportunities offered by our federal, state and local partners. The time to be
prepared is prior to an event, not when the event is upon us. Later in this
newsletter, Allyson Schulz, MDA #31’s Public Health Preparedness Coordinator,
lists ways in which you can become informed and participate in our planning
process. Please take advantage of these various opportunities by reading,
training, volunteering and asking questions.
Charles J. Petrillo, Jr., Dr.PH
Regional Clinic Coordinator
Click here for
archived Message from the Regional Coordinator