The mission of this exercise was to place Environmental Health and Epidemiology Strike Teams in an outbreak event where they were expected to perform the full range of tasks required when activated, along with coordination between teams to identify and contain a contagion.
Provide a realistic outbreak scenario and environment within which the Environmental Health and Epidemiology Strike Teams were able to accomplish the Exercise Purpose.
The scenario revolves around an initial outbreak of an unidentified type and origin within the exercising community selected by the region. The victims, who number in the hundreds with two fatalities, were from local schools and elder-care facilities. The size of the victim population overwhelmed the County Health Department’s resources to effectively investigate and contain either the contagious or environmental cause of this illness. The Regional Environmental Health and Epidemiology Strike Teams were deployed in support of the impacted county. Prior to deployment, these teams received the status of the investigative actions already taken by the County Health Department, namely the sampling and exclusion of food items at the affected schools and elder-care facilities. The strike teams’ mission was to continue investigation and inspections of the affected facilities to determine the cause and develop containment strategies for eliminating further spread.
In the aftermath of numerous disasters and the ongoing threat of public health emergencies within our state, the Florida Department of Health, as lead agency for Emergency Support Function (ESF) 8 Health and Medical, has classified Public Health-Typed Teams to facilitate resource management to impacted communities. These typed teams were deployed to support local communities whose resources have been overwhelmed by the magnitude of an incident. Two of these typed teams, Environmental Health Strike Teams (that focus on investigation and inspection of environmental sources of contamination) and Epidemiology Strike Teams (that provide investigation expertise of human sources of infection) exist to assist local communities without the needed resources to deal with disease outbreaks.
The Overwhelming Outbreak 001-007 was a series of exercises conducted in succession using a chain of stations to simulate the major functions accomplished during an environmental health and epidemiological investigation of a widespread outbreak in various Florida counties. The day-long exercises were conducted to test Environmental Health and Epidemiology Strike Teams in as realistic a outbreak situation as possible.