Online Program

Extreme heat-health action plans: The role of local public health in mobilizing the community

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Paul A. Biedrzycki, MPH, MBA, CIH, City of Milwaukee Health Department, Milwaukee, WI
Terri Linder, BS, RS, City of Milwaukee Health Department, Milwaukee, WI
Anton Kapela, MS, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration, National Weather Service Forecast Office, Dousman, WI
Extreme heat in urban settings can result in measurable morbidity and mortality that is preventable through partnerships between public health authorities and the community. Urban heat-islands are a phenomenon well described by meteorological research and generate a potential burden on populations living and working in this environment. Developing an integrated community strategy that leverages existing networks and resources in the community is therefore essential. Components include; meaningful warning systems; timely public messaging; heat-related illness surveillance; and, monitoring of vulnerable populations. Local public health agencies are often in the best position to provide coordination of these types of activities. During the summer of 2012, six distinct extreme heat events were recorded in Milwaukee County. These events resulted in a total of eight suspected heat-related deaths. The ages of decedents ranged from 42-66 yrs. with many involving high risk conditions or behaviors. During this time, the Milwaukee County Extreme Heat Health Task Force led by the City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) was mobilized to lessen the severity of impact on the community as well as coordinate resources. An Extreme Heat Health Action Plan developed by the MHD in coordination with Task Force members was activated and provided the framework for community-wide response. Relatively few cities have action plans to mitigate morbidity and mortality associated with extreme heat events. Furthermore, climate change may portend an increase in both frequency and severity of such occurrences. Consequently, Local public health agencies need to be at the forefront in preparing and responding to heat-related emergencies.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health administration or related administration
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe how extreme heat events impact the public health within urban settings. Discuss the role of local public health agencies in developing a extreme heat action plan in collaboration with other community stakeholders. Explain the impact of six extreme health events on morbidity and mortality within Milwaukee County during 2012. Identify factors associated with an increased risk for heat related illness within a community including the most vulnerable populations and environmental settings.

Keyword(s): Environmental Exposures, Community Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I currently serve as Director of Disease Control and Environmental Health at the City of Milwaukee Health Department and have personally mobilized and managed public health response to dozens of heat-related emergency events within the City of Milwaukee the past 30 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4267.0: Topics in Health Planning