Program will allow critical communications and incident management for state, local health departments
On May 29, 2007, the Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) announced the creation of the Kentucky Public Health Interoperable Communication System (KPHICS), a wide-ranging program that allows interoperable communications and incident management between the state and local health departments statewide.
“We are very pleased to have acquired this collaborative crisis information communications system, which will provide real-time information sharing to facilitate decision making in public health emergencies,” said William D. Hacker, M.D., commissioner for public health and acting undersecretary for health at the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “KPHICS will have the capability to link together local, state, federal and volunteer sources and provides users with a common operational system, giving public health workers and responders access to the critical operational data they need to make sound decisions quickly.”
The KPHICS system consists of a variety of components, including incident management software, a portable operations center and an inventory/asset management system.
The main component of the KPHICS system is WebEOC, incident management software that acts as a virtual emergency operations center over multiple disciplines, allowing crisis information to be universally available to authorized users during the planning, mitigation, response and recovery phases of an emergency.
WebEOC will be supported by a pilot project called Man-portable Interoperable Tactical Operations Center (MITOC-II), a portable wireless Internet hot spot that will sustain voice and data communications over multiple cellular and satellite networks. Combining the MITOC-II with existing satellite radio and telephone infrastructure will ensure that effective communications flow between local and state health departments in the event of an emergency.
The Inventory/Asset Management System component of KPHICS will be used to manage and track assets related to the Strategic National Stockpile in addition to items purchased with federal grant funds statewide.
The University of Louisville’s (U of L) Information Technology Research Center (iTRC) was recently awarded the contract to host and maintain the KPHICS program in partnership with the university’s Information Technology Department.
“This exciting new system was developed with research done right here in Kentucky,” said James Graham, iTRC director at U of L. “Now officials can communicate more effectively in public health emergencies, thanks to teamwork by the state, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the National Institute for Homeland Security in Somerset, Murray State University and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.”
The Fletcher administration has focused on increasing public health preparedness statewide through a variety of initiatives and improvements that garnered it a top three ranking among states for health emergency preparedness in the Trust for America’s Health report. These efforts include: extensive pandemic influenza planning and summits in all 120 counties; upgrading the DPH emergency operations center and adding a public health mobile communications trailer; establishing regional caches of pharmaceuticals and chemical weapon antidotes; creating the Kentucky Outreach and Information Network, a grassroots network designed to reach vulnerable populations during emergencies; and establishing back-up communications systems for health departments and hospitals statewide, among others.