News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Local responder attends US Department of Homeland Security training

(September 15, 2008) Emergency responder Carol Paxton, from the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, recently completed “Pandemic Influenza—Planning and Preparedness” training at the Center for Domestic Preparedness, located in Anniston, Alabama. The Center for Domestic Preparedness is operated by the US Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As Director of Public Health Emergency Preparedness for the Health Department, Paxton is responsible for preparing and testing plans to respond with community partners to natural disasters, industrial accidents, bioterrorism, and disease outbreaks, such as pandemic flu, smallpox, or anthrax. At their recent Annual Meeting, Michigan Department of Community Health Office of Public Health Preparedness presented two recognition awards to Paxton: one for best practice for a contact database and the other for collaboration with tribal partners.

Over the course of the past twelve months, she finalized the Health Department’s Comprehensive All Hazards Plan, Pandemic Flu Response Plan, Continuity of Operations Plan, and a plan to dispense Strategic National Stockpile pharmaceuticals. She also conducted exercises to evaluate the Health Department’s ability to dispense medications quickly to large numbers of people, surveillance, communication, and quarantine.

The Center for Domestic Preparedness provides federally-funded, interdisciplinary training for emergency responders from across the US and US Territories, for ten responder disciplines: Emergency Management, Emergency Medical Service, Fire Service, Governmental Administration, Hazardous Materials, Healthcare, Law Enforcement, Public Health, Public Safety Communications, and Public Works.

Healthcare and Public Health training is conducted at the Center for Domestic Preparedness’s Noble Training Facility, the nation’s only hospital facility dedicated to training healthcare professionals in disaster preparedness and response. The course is designed to provide responders with critical skills and confidence to be better prepared to effectively respond to local incidents or potential weapons-of-mass-destruction incidents.

Many training courses culminate at the Center for Disaster Preparedness’s Chemical, Ordnance, Biological & Radiological Facility, the nation’s only facility featuring civilian training exercises in a true toxic environment, using chemical agents. The advanced hands-on training enables responders to effectively prevent, respond, and recover from real-world incidents involving acts of terrorism and other hazardous materials.

Responders attending the Center for Disaster Preparedness training are selected from the nation’s 11 million emergency responders. Paxton was one of the emergency responders at the training awarded a grant to attend the September training. “The Homeland Security Training was outstanding,” she said. “I especially appreciated the opportunity to learn from the very best and meet others from across the country charged with responsibilities similar to mine.”

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information about local public health emergency preparedness, contact Paxton at 231-547-6523 or For additional information about Center for Disaster Preparedness programs, visit