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Emergency Preparedness and Bioterrorism Response: Development of an Educational Program for Public Health Personnel


  • Karen Baldwin, Ph.D., R.N., Assistant Professor, School of Nursing, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois. Joanne LaMantia, M.S.N., R.N., Advocate Health Care, Oakbrook, Illinois. Linda Proziack, M.S.N., R.N., DuPage County Health Department, Wheaton, Illinois.

* Karen Baldwin, 1148 Barberry Ct., Downers Grove, IL 60515. E-mail:


Abstract  Public health departments are under increasing pressure to provide emergency preparedness and bioterrorism response education to public health personnel. The challenge that health departments face is to provide cost-efficient, timely education to a large number of multidisciplinary personnel. This article describes an innovative strategy for providing this education to public health personnel using the health department's intranet system. The intranet system provided confidential information specific to the staff role and allowed for concurrent access to the program by multiple individuals at different service sites. Knowledge acquisition was tested through short multiple-choice questions that followed the specific information modules. The intranet system faced a number of challenges during the pilot-testing phase, primarily related to changes in the role of the public health nurse and limitations in funding and public health staff to maintain and monitor the bioterrorism response program and the intranet system. The design of the program may prove useful for other public health organizations when a need exists for quick delivery of information to a large number of personnel. It may especially be useful in providing basic emergency preparedness and bioterrorism education to new personnel in health departments.