NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, the City of New Orleans announced that it will hold a medical needs emergency preparedness exercise in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on June 10th and 11th across New Orleans. The purpose of the exercise will be to assess an innovative way to use data to identify and reach medical high-risk citizens, particularly those who are oxygen and ventilator dependent, in need of assistance in the event of any emergency. The exercise 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.
In the past, people who are at high risk because of medical special needs in New Orleans have been identified only through the City’s voluntary medical special needs registry, a component of the City’s NOLA Ready emergency preparedness efforts (http://new.nola.gov/ready/special-needs/). This pilot exercise will assess whether certain federal data can potentially assist the local health department in developing actionable information to rapidly initiate outreach and search and rescue assistance to these medically needy individuals in a timely enough fashion to save lives.
The exercise will begin with a simulated power loss scenario. Through a pre-arranged process, the City will receive essential federal information for individuals who rely upon electricity-dependent medical equipment, such as oxygen. . Teams, comprised of City and federal officials, will go door to door to over 100 randomly selected homes across New Orleans to validate the actionable information.
The exercise is a signature project for the New Orleans Health Department, leading the exercise as part of the White House’s Strong Cities, Strong Communities (SC2) Initiative. Teams from departments across City Hall, including the New Orleans Health Department, 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 are involved in this collaboration with HHS.
“If successful, this innovative public health activity has the potential to be replicated across the country,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “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.”
“Our door-to-door search for medical needs individuals during the prolonged power loss associated with Hurricane Isaac last year motivated us to find more innovative ways to identify and reach those most in need. We expect this new way will accomplish just that,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Karen DeSalvo. “I am grateful to our federal partners for making this innovative idea become a reality through this first of a kind exercise.”
In 2011, the Obama Administration launched the SC2 Initiative as a forward-looking partnership between mayors and the federal government to foster economic growth and resiliency in six cities. Teams of federal employees are embedded with six Mayors across the country to provide tailored technical assistance to cut through red tape, increase government efficiency, and build partnerships to help local leaders implement sustainable economic plans.