Healthcare Response to Weapons of Mass Destruction: Biological, Chemical and Radiological

Health Alert Network





The threat of bioterrorism in the United States is all too real.  New health threats that challenge the abilities of our existing local and state public health infrastructures are becoming more common. Further, our society is increasingly mobile, meaning that a disease originating in one state may be transferred to many other states in a single day. Without the needed communication system in place, clusters of disease cases can go undiagnosed for weeks while disease spreads silently.

The Health Alert Network (HAN) is a nationwide communications system that was established by the CDC, and is implemented by each state. It is designed to enable a two-way, 24/7 flow of critical health information.  The state of Nevada, Division of Public and Behavioral Health (DPBH), Public Health Preparedness Program (PHP), administers the Nevada Health Alert Network (NVHAN). NVHAN is composed of three systems: HAvBED (Hospital Available Beds for Emergencies and Disasters); NXT Communicator; and the Wireless Priority Service (WPS) and Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS). NVHAN is a viable, statewide, bed tracking, availability and alerting system in place throughout Nevada. NVHAN is a digital, high-speed notification system used to rapidly contact hospitals and healthcare facilities; or thousands of staff with extreme speed and accuracy (NVDPBH, 2015).

A bioterrorism event, and other public health emergencies, may first be recognized by local health care providers, who notice a sudden surge in the emergency room, or a pattern of unusual cases or diagnoses. Health facilities throughout the United States must have the capacity to detect and respond to these threats. The answer is the Health Alert Network, which provides these essential capabilities:

  • Ongoing surveillance activities to quickly identify potential health threats.
  • Laboratory capability to perform testing to determine the threat agent.
  • The ability to conduct disease investigations.
  • Effective protocol for reporting incidents and sharing information.
  • Efficient emergency communications among all involved parties.

In the event of a PUBLIC HEALTH emergency, please call the PHP Duty Officer at (775)  684-5920

Nevada Health Alert Network

775.684.3242 (Office) or
775.684.5951 (Fax)

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