New Orleans Holding Emergency Preparedness Exercise

"This pilot program is a perfect example of how we in New Orleans can lead in resiliency, in an area that is particularly important during an emergency -- the identification of some of the most high-risk individuals in our community," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said.

The city of New Orleans is holding a citywide medical needs emergency preparedness exercise June 10-11 in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It is intended to assess an innovative way to use data to identify and reach medically high-risk citizens, particularly those who are oxygen and ventilator dependent, who will need assistance during an emergency. According to the city's announcement of the event, this is a "first-in-the-nation assessment of a more active way to find and assist those most in need in the event of emergency or disaster."

Currently, people who are at high risk because of medical special needs in New Orleans have been identified through the city's voluntary medical special needs registry (http://new.nola.gov/ready/special-needs/ ). This exercise will test whether certain federal data can aid the local health department in developing actionable information so assistance reaches these individuals and saves lives.

The exercise will begin with a simulated power loss, and then city officials will receive essential federal information for individuals who rely on electricity-dependent medical equipment. Teams of city and federal officials then will visit more than 100 randomly selected homes to validate the actionable information.

Participating city departments include the New Orleans Health Department, leading the exercise as part of the White House's Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative, the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Information Technology and Innovation, Emergency Medical Services, New Orleans Fire Department, and New Orleans Police Department.

"If successful, this innovative public health activity has the potential to be replicated across the country," Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. "This pilot program is a perfect example of how we in New Orleans can lead in resiliency, in an area that is particularly important during an emergency -- the identification of some of the most high-risk individuals in our community. It is also an example of how SC2 is helping to break down stovepipes between federal, state, and local agencies."

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