Environmental Health Officer Professional Advisory Committee
LCDR Aaron Otis - Hurricane Isaac and 2012 Republican National Convention Response
- Last Updated on 10 March 2014
My name is LCDR Aaron Otis, and since 2010, I have served as a Public Health Advisor assigned to the Florida Department of Health’s Bureau of Preparedness and Response (BPR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, Division of State and Local Readiness. It was during my participation in BPR’s emergency response events of 2012 that I was particularly reminded of the statement by Winston Churchill “He who fails to plan is planning to fail”.
In March of 2012, I participated on the Florida Department of Health’s full-scale medical surge exercise planning and evaluation team. During the exercise I served as the Senior Exercise Evaluator for an exercise that had 30 participating agencies, over 400 participants, and two impact sites, deploying resources from multiple state regions and activating the State Emergency Support Function 8 (ESF 8)–Health and Medical Services. The greatest outcome I observed was the need to focus efforts on building a culture of preparedness, specifically preparing staff to respond to both no-noticed incidents (e.g., tornados) and noticed incidents (e.g., hurricanes).
With the Statewide Hurricane Exercise in May 2012, we implemented a program to improve the culture of preparedness. The new staff training was included in Florida’s standard hurricane preparedness activities. However, unlike most annual hurricane preparedness seasons, BPR had also been requested to simultaneously support the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County during the City of Tampa’s hosting of the Republican National Convention (RNC).
During the pre-planning for this event I was designated as the State ESF 8 Planning Section Coordinator; my responsibilities were to coordinate and support the State ESF 8 forward operations and activate the full State ESF 8 Management Team if an incident occurred during the RNC.
Knowing we would be in peak Florida hurricane season during the RNC scheduled for August 2012, our planning team recognized the need to develop a hurricane contingency plan focused on a hurricane impact to the Greater Tampa Bay area. We knew that every storm brings the unexpected, and if you are not looking forward you are preparing to fail. The contingency plan developed included threats and associated risks to the state’s public health and medical sector people, systems, and services. The plan included solutions for how to manage a storm in the Tampa Bay area which had an influx of non-residents and how to support both the RNC event and an incident. In respect to managing a hurricane incident during the RNC, the contingency plan outlined how to implement a separate incident management team in the event of such a crisis.
In August, shortly after activating for the RNC, we were notified of a potential impact from Hurricane Isaac and immediately recognized the wisdom of contingency pre-planning to handle multiple incidents. The pre-planning allowed for a short five minute discussion amongst colleagues during which we reviewed the contingency plan and agreed upon the solutions. We immediately began implementing two incident management teams. Our ability to pre-plan resulted in the effective management of the RNC and outcomes from Tropical Storm Isaac.
Without our contingency plan in place, State ESF 8 would have consumed precious time trying to determine how to manage multiple incidents and how to deal with a significant population influx. What may have appeared from the outside to be a five minute planning discussion was in fact a reflection of our team’s efforts in not failing to plan. Even in a year with five responses, the foresight to develop the contingency plan and then the chance to enact it was one of my most memorable emergency preparedness and readiness moments.
Proposed Revisions to EHO Appointment Standards
- Last Updated on 13 January 2014
In September 2012 the Policy and Standards Subcommittee initiated efforts to research, review, and if deemed necessary, recommend to the EHOPAC that revisions be made to the current EHO appointment standards. After seven months of internal discussions, the Subcommittee released a survey to the EHO category in April 2013. The purpose of this survey was to collect quantitative (yes/no responses) and qualitative (submitted comments) feedback from active duty EHOs regarding changes to the current category appointment standards.
This document is the summary of the responses received from that survey.
2013 JRCOSTEP Narratives
- Last Updated on 23 October 2013
During the summer of 2013, twenty students from ten different colleges and universities participated in the Junior Commissioned Officer Student Training and Extern Program (JRCOSTEP).
Sixteen were assigned to the Indian Health Service (IHS). Narratives from these students can be found on the IHS Division of Environmental Health Services (DEHS) website.
ENS Erin Gymburch was assigned to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vessel Sanitation Program - (PDF: 261 KB, 2 pages)
ENS Kelly Burvik was assigned to the National Institutes of Health - (PDF: 153 KB, 2 pages)
ENS Stephen McLane was also assigned to the National Institutes of Health - (PDF: 203 KB, 2 pages)
ENS Arthur Beames was assigned to the United States Coast Guard - (PDF: 88 KB, 2 pages)
If you are interested in the JRCOSTEP program please visit the Student Opportunities section of the United States Public Health Service website.
Chief EHO Receives Award
- Last Updated on 08 October 2013
|Chief Environmental Health Officer, CAPT Michael Welch, recently received the Surgeon General's Exemplary Service Medal for his outstanding leadership and commitment to the Corps as the Chief EHO.|
NEHA Honors Two EHOs
- Last Updated on 02 October 2013
This year the National Environmental Health Association (NEHA) honored two Environmental Health Officers from CDC's National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) at the 77th Annual NEHA Educational Conference held from July 9-11, 2013, in Washington, DC.
CAPT Michael E. Herring (pictured to the left) received the 2013 Walter S. Mangold Award. This prestiguous award is the highest award given by NEHA started in 1955 and recognizes an individual for outstanding contributions to the advancement of the environmental health professional. It is named in honor of Walter S. Mangold for his lifetime dedication to upgrading the performance of sanitarians and raising the standards of environmental health practitioners. His programs helped shape the environmental health profession throughout the world. CAPT Herring received this award for exhibiting the highest levels of dedication, leadership, professionalism, and expertise that mark all aspects of his environmental health career.
|CAPT Mark D. Miller (pictured to the left) received the new NEHA Educational Contribution Award for his work related to the Environmental Health Training in Emergency Response (EHTER). He received this award along with Martin A. Kalis. EHTER focuses on key environmental health issues and challenges to prepare environmental health professionals for emergency response and recovery. This new award recognizes recipients for outstanding contributions within the field of environmental health. It acknowledges the recipient's work to advance and promote professional development of environmental health professionals through instruction or development of an educational or training tool.|