One measure of preparedness is the time it takes for the Health Department to alert the public about infectious disease outbreaks, disasters or environmental hazards that threaten human health. Rapid release of accurate and credible information can minimize rumors and misinformation, and empower people to take positive action to protect themselves and others.
The methodology and standard for measuring this Healthy People 2020 indicator is still in development. Longer response time is worse performance, but the need for speed varies according to the type of emergency. For example, a radiological emergency requires an immediate response (minutes), compared to an unusual rise in the number of whooping cough cases (days). For this reason, it is difficult to set a standard measure that would apply to every emergency event. What we can do is determine a target for each event, drill or exercise, and then document the time it takes from notification of the event to issuing official information.
This will be formally tested during the 2016 statewide Vigilant Guard exercise. After-action reviews of public health events and emergencies will also evaluate the timing of public health information releases.