- Establish known and repeatable methods of communication for information updates and advisories for all frontline healthcare professionals. Advisory information should extend to best practices for waiting room management and segregation, updates on symptoms, treatments, public health reporting, monitoring, testing and hospitalization. As noted previously, email alert blasts and other push-oriented information delivery methods should be used.
Establish outreach and communications with key groups:
- Critical infrastructure and key business assets. Establish key sector outreach representatives to interact with large business, critical infrastructure entities and other important community assets.2 Make pandemic planning documents available to assist business leaders and facilities operators in handling an outbreak and ensuring continuity of operations. Additionally, consider functional capacity and operational impact reporting so that public emergency management officials can monitor potential interruption or degradation of key services due to workforce impacts. Areas of monitoring include utilities, particularly field technicians and facilities repair personnel; municipal and regional transportation operators and personnel, such as bus drivers and train operators; law enforcement and fire personnel; acute and primary care facilities. Specific communications channels should be opened for all mass-gathering facilities like stadiums, theaters, malls and similar venues.
- Historically underserved populations. Actively engage community leaders, including churches, educators and neighborhood advocacy groups, to explain policies and procedures, share information and resources, and provide an official liaison contact to mitigate any problems with access and delivery.
- Aged, handicapped and other vulnerable populations. Actively engage group homes and retirement communities to explain policies and procedures, share information and resources, and provide an official liaison contact to address elder issues. Special emphasis should also be placed on establishing methods of communication for the blind and hearing-impaired.
- Schools and universities. Actively engage with schools and universities,3 both private and public, to disseminate information regarding recommended prevention, response policies and procedures, monitoring and reporting back to community households. State, regional and local education officials should continually collaborate with public health officials, means for advisory communication and updates should be established, and an official liaison contact should be provided.
- Immigrant and multi-lingual populations. As our society has become increasingly diverse and mobile, officials should be aware that there are many non-English-speaking residents and visitors, and all critical materials and instructions should be accessible in all major languages represented within the community. Appropriate emergency staffing and response should also include multi-lingual speakers and translators.
Monitoring and Pre-empting Escalation
Be vigilant in monitoring trends in behavior, particularly any rise in acts of public disorder and the circumstances under which and places where they are occurring. As discussed, potential flash points are emergency rooms, inoculation centers and dispensaries, among others. Threats and incidents that have any reasonable nexus to the pandemic should be reported into a central repository for analysis and establishing prevention and mitigation strategies. For example, if significant potential for disturbances is occurring at hospitals, then deploying uniformed law enforcement personnel at these locations may temper behavior, but also help contain any disturbance. Implementing real time interoperable communications between security personnel and law enforcement, and establishing video monitoring at key locations with real-time video-sharing with law enforcement is also a good strategy for force multiplication, situation awareness and reduced response times.
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