When new and emerging infectious diseases begin spreading globally, there is a significant onus on clinicians and public health officials to rapidly educate themselves on the disease progression and implement treatment protocols. The Georgia Department of Public Health partnered with the Institute for Disaster Management to implement an Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) training program in Georgia. The program was developed to ensure all healthcare personnel who may encounter an infected individual could identify a suspected case, understand mechanisms to protect themselves, isolate appropriate patients, inform necessary organizations, and facilitate patient transport to definitive care. In total, 1220 individuals representing 480 healthcare organizations participated in at least one of the 14 seminars offered.
Georgia Healthcare Community Regional Emergency Preparedness Exercise Program
From 2006-2018, IDM worked with the Georgia Department of Public Health to administer the Georgia Healthcare Community Regional Emergency Preparedness Exercise Program. The project’s goal was to assist hospitals in drafting, revising, implementing, testing, and evaluating their Emergency Operations Plans via disaster exercises. In 2015, the emphasis of planning efforts was shifted to focusing on hospitals to one that incorporated the continuum of healthcare and its community partners. This approach expanded the program beyond satisfying hospital regulatory requirements to fostering community relationships, ensuring continuity of operations, and conducting realistic disaster training. IDM was able to incorporate new partners into planning meetings, deconflict plans, and pool limited resources in order to conduct larger, more realistic disaster exercises. In 2016, the US Department of Health and Human Services recognized the value and quality of the program in Georgia and identified the IDM program as the national standard.
Georgia Long Term Care Emergency Preparedness Educational Program
The mission of the Georgia LTCEP Educational Program was to provide caregivers and administrators with critical knowledge, skills and abilities related to disaster and emergency management decision-making skills by providing preparedness and disaster exercise training to CMS certified long term care facility staff members. We offered basic, advanced, and disaster exercise courses. Each course features an interactive session with the Georgia State Fire Marshal’s Office covering the survey process and E-tag trends in Georgia.
Click here to access an additional page with course resources.
Emergency Preparedness Kits
The GALTCEPEP was granted the opportunity to provide an Emergency Preparedness (EP) Kit to all certified long term care facilities who participated in the program prior to September 30, 2020. Each EP Kit has items that are useful whether the certified facility is sheltering-in-place or evacuating its residents and staff.
More information on the EP Kits
Click here to download pdfs of the Georgia Long Term Care Emergency Preparedness Educational Program Newsletters.
Highly Infectious Disease Plan and Exercise Program
The Institute for Disaster Management (IDM) worked to revise, educate, and test the capacity of the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Highly Infectious Disease (HID) Plan. A core planning team of subject matter experts partnered with IDM to ensure the revised HID Plan was robust, deliberate, and executable. Existing planning was systematically reviewed and revised using knowledge gained from the 2014 EVD outbreak and the 2020 SARS CoV-2 pandemic, along with other governmental and non-governmental plans and resources.
Once the HID Plan was drafted, IDM delivered seminars to state and local stakeholders to present the updated plan and elicit feedback. This pertinent feedback was used to further update and revise the plan.
IDM conducted a state-wide, Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program compliant tabletop exercise utilizing the newly drafted HID plan. Following the exercise, IDM conducted a comprehensive After Action Report to compile feedback about what went well during the exercise and what planning gaps were identified. Utilizing this feedback, IDM edited the plan further before the final HID Plan was submitted.
Infectious Disease Transportation Network (IDTN) Training Courses
Following the 2014 Ebola outbreak and subsequent transport and treatment of Ebola Virus Disease patients in Atlanta, GA, the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) created the Infectious Disease Network. This network consists of two groups – the Infectious Disease Hospital Network and the Infectious Disease Transportation Network (IDTN). Both groups were formed to coordinate and conduct the transport of highly infectious disease patients and to prepare for these transports through procurement of specialized equipment, training, education, and performance assessments.
From 2016-2020, IDM was awarded a grant from DPH to develop, teach, and train emergency medical services personnel how to safely transport and treat highly infectious disease patients. The training program included four different courses on the use of high-level personal protective equipment donning / doffing, infectious disease precautions, and ambulance draping and decontamination. These courses were conducted all across the State of Georgia to over 550 first respond.
Operation Wesley (HHS Region 4 Ebola Exercise Program)
Following the 2014 Ebola Outbreak, the Georgia Department of Public Health formed the Georgia Infectious Disease Network (IDN) to train, equip, and coordinate healthcare facilities and EMS agencies to identify, isolate, and inform when presented with a highly infectious disease (HID) patient. Since then, the number of course offerings and clinical providers choosing to participate in Ebola Virus Disease trainings and exercises have significantly decreased. This is especially significant for frontline providers who are not as immersed in highly infectious disease preparedness as designated healthcare assessment and treatment facilities. The purpose of the exercise program was to assess and evaluate treatment, assessment, and frontline providers’ capacity to handle a large influx of patients presenting with Ebola-like symptoms and a positive travel history.
Originally designed for Georgia, the exercise program evolved to incorporate seven states within US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Region IV. Exercise play included having Georgia’s treatment and assessment beds at full capacity in addition to transferring multiple patients from surrounding states to Emory University Hospital’s Serious Communicable Diseases Unit. Georgia’s Infectious Disease Transportation Network services also participated in the exercise program and Phoenix Air Group simulated flying a patient to a Regional Ebola Treatment Facility in a separate HHS region.
State of Georgia’s Crisis Care Response Plan
The Institute for Disaster Management (IDM) was contracted by Georgia Department of Public Health to develop the Crisis Care Response Plan for the State of Georgia. A core planning team of subject matter experts was assembled to build consensus on the ethical conundrums surrounding the state-level allocation of care and resources during a scarce resource environment.
IDM identified and compiled various governmental and non-governmental plans and resources to inform the creation of Georgia’s plan. Together the core planning team drafted the plan, updated and revised based on feedback, and submitted the completed Crisis Care Response Plan to the state for their use.