Bernalillo County’s Emergency Management Office has a written plan in place that addresses how the county responds to emergencies--whether it’s a natural disaster or a biological attack. “The county established its Office of Emergency Management several years ago, and it’s one of my top priorities to make sure we are prepared to protect the public during any type of emergency,” says Tom Zdunek, Bernalillo County Manager.
A recent Forbes magazine article reported that the Albuquerque metro area received poor marks when it comes to preparing for a biological attack. The article was based on a U.S. Centers for Disease Control initiative that’s designed to work with large communities to assist them with preparing for a biological catastrophe. This past August, the C-D-C‘s “Cities Readiness Initiative” administered an evaluation to the city of Albuquerque and four surrounding counties: Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia and Torrance. “The metropolitan area is prepared for a biological incident; however, the level of detail requested in the evaluation was more than we anticipated, which affected the outcome,” says Roger Tannen, manager for Bernalillo County’s Office of Emergency Management.
The C-D-C wants heavily populated metro areas to have a specific plan on how to handle biological attacks. Bernalillo County has a primary emergency preparedness plan and it has a C-D-C plan that specifically addresses biological catastrophes. “We have a plan; it’s a work in progress. When we became aware of the level of detail that the C-D-C wanted to see, we immediately began revising and adding components,” says Tannen. Tannen adds that the city and four surrounding counties have participated in drills to practice elements of the plan.
Since the C-D-C review, emergency managers from Bernalillo County, the city of Albuquerque, the state Department of Health and other surrounding counties have held regularly scheduled meetings to work on the development and revision of the C-D-C readiness plan. The most recent meeting was held yesterday at the Bernalillo County Office of Emergency Management. A U.S. Centers for Disease Control representative was also present to discuss how each agency could work together to enhance a coordinated response to biological disasters.
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