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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

Rutgers Preparedness Editorial, 2018

The Rutgers School of Public Health Center for Public Health Workforce Development prepares New Jersey programs, training, and technical assistance that supports the professional development of the public health workforce. The Center increases the capacity of the public health workforce through programs that provide knowledge and skills to public health professionals and provide pathways for organizations to increase their capacity to engage in solutions to public health issues.

The Center trains workers on safety issues during hazardous materials and emergency response operations, as well as preparing them to respond to disasters. No matter the situation, the courses increase competency in workers to critically analyze dangerous situations, and enable them to identify safe work practices.

The Center has several ongoing projects supporting public health workforce development:

The Center, directed by Rutgers School of Public Health faculty member, Dr. Mitchel Rosen, has a long history of providing emergency preparedness training. Staring in 1987, a Regional Hazardous Materials Training Center was created with funds from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to provide hazardous materials emergency response training to fire fighters, police, and other emergency services personnel. After the bombing of the World Trade Center (WTC) in 1993, Dr. Rosen was consulted to provide guidance for the development of a plan to increase safety of the Twin Towers by restricting access to the truck docks by trucks carrying hazardous materials.  After 9/11, he was instrumental in developing training for responders to the WTC, as well as providing technical assistance to the Port Authority on environmental and worker protection issues. In 2004, the Rutgers School of Public Health was awarded funding from Centers for Disease Control to develop the New Jersey Center for Public Health Preparedness. The Center developed preparedness trainings, developed resources, and focused on developing crisis leadership skills for public health professionals.

Additionally, the Center and Dr. Rosen are actively involved in crisis mitigation. He and his team have responded to hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Maria, as well as provided support during the Ebola outbreak.

In response to disaster planning needs following the events of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, the Center was funded in 2005 by NIEHS to provide HazMat Disaster Preparedness Training to the Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) workforce. The training was designed for emergency responders, skilled construction personnel, health care workers, and others to be prepared to respond to a terrorist or national disaster event.

Dr. Rosen was called on by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) to develop a quick response to the Ebola virus crisis. In Fall 2014, the Center developed a “train-the-trainer” course that taught emergency responders, public health, and health care providers the proper methods to don and doff personal protective equipment.  In just over one week, the Center trained over 270 trainers.  Those trainers provided training to over 900 other responders. In 2015, the NJDOH provided additional funding to train public health professionals in Ebola PPE.

Currently, Dr. Rosen is in San Juan, Puerto Rico, leading a stakeholder meeting to discuss training implications from the preliminary report released by the Governor of Puerto Rico, “Transformation and Innovation in the Wake of Devastation: An Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico.”  The stakeholder meeting will have broad participation, including representatives from Federal, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and Local government, academia, community-based organizations, and others just before the one-year mark of Hurricane Maria’s devastation on the island of Puerto Rico and surrounding areas. The goal of the meeting is to identify training needs and to initiate a plan to address those needs through training.