Background: Is the Incident Command System an effective tool to manage non-emergency response actions, such as to rapidly decrease congenital syphilis?
Methods: The Florida Department of Health in Broward County (DOH-Broward) activated an incident command team to: conduct targeted epidemiological investigation and study, including retrospective analysis; implement continuous quality improvements to STD program activities; manage internal and external strike teams; recruit and train a competent STD program staff; develop and implement a social marketing campaign; conduct provider and community outreach and education; and, monitor the effectiveness of mitigation strategies and campaign activities.
Results: Incident Command System (ICS) meetings were held from May 30, 2013, through January 2, 2014. A bi-weekly briefing meeting continues to be held throughout 2014. An Action Plan was developed on May 29, 2013. The initial Incident Action Plan (IAP) was prepared on May 30, 2013 utilizing the Action Plan as a guiding document. A total of 22 IAPs were developed over the course of the event. A total of 46 Situation Reports were developed. An electronic survey was distributed to the eleven incident command team members with a final After Action meeting held on March 13, 2014. This activation also allowed DOH-Broward to test its All-Hazards Response Plan and Communications and Epidemiology Annexes in a real world event scenario.
Conclusions: The Incident Command System provided an effective structure to manage, track, document, and evaluate a non-emergency response. New congenital syphilis cases were reduced by 40% from 2012 to 2013. DOH-Broward has developed an integrated team to include STD, TB, Hepatitis, HIV and Epidemiology professionals to meet bi-weekly to continue coordinated and integrated program discussions in calendar year 2014.