This morning, the Stephen M. Lawlor Medical Intelligence Center recognized its five-year anniversary, a cause for celebration after what had been one of the busiest and most meaningful months of work in its brief history. Immediately following the tragic events of the Boston Marathon, the Medical Intelligence Center, operated by the Boston Public Health Commission’s Office of Public Health Preparedness, mobilized to assist hundreds of survivors and their families by connecting them to supportive services and resources, such as mental health counseling and free physical therapy being offered by a community partner. The center’s staff was honored for their tireless efforts today by Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of BPHC, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.

Click on the picture for more images from the event.

Click on the picture for more images from the event.

“The spirit of community and togetherness has defined Boston’s response this past month under extremely trying circumstances, and one the Medical Intelligence Center has always represented,” Mayor Menino said.  “I’m thankful for what the staff there does day in and day out to make sure that our city is prepared to respond to all kinds of emergencies.  I’m also proud of the strong partnerships we have at the federal level to make sure emergency preparedness efforts are well funded in Boston.”

“In the face of tragedy, the Boston community came together in a very special way, showing not just America – but the world – how a great city responds quickly, effectively, and comprehensively to an act of terrorism,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I want to recognize the outstanding work of the Boston Medical Intelligence Center, a state-of-the-art communications and information sharing facility supported by DHS grant programs that brings together partners from across the public health community to support the response to large-scale incidents. As always, DHS remains firmly committed to working with our partners here in Boston and across the Commonwealth to further enhance emergency response capabilities.”

The Medical Intelligence Center, or MIC, which often operates under the radar to those outside of the medical and public health community, is a state-of-the art communications and information sharing facility.  When activated, it allows first responder agencies, hospitals, public health departments, community health centers, long-term care facilities, other government agencies, and private partners to work collaboratively in response to large-scale incidents and emergencies.  The MIC is a key component of Boston’s overall preparedness efforts, as it collects and disseminates information during everything from weather emergencies to planned public events like the Marathon, First Night and July 4th festivities.  The center can be staffed either physically or virtually depending upon the severity of the incident at hand.

The Office of Public Health Preparedness built the policies and procedures for the MIC based on input from the Boston Healthcare Preparedness Coalition, which brings together public health, EMS. hospitals, community health centers, long-term care, home health, dialysis centers, and mental health partners in the greater Boston area.  These partners come together to continually enhance public health and medical preparedness for response and recovery through emergency planning, trainings, drills and exercises, evaluations, and improvement planning.

The family of Stephen M. Lawlor, the late Boston EMS deputy superintendent after whom the MIC is named, joined city officials and partners to celebrate the occasion.  A 27-year veteran of Boston EMS, Lawlor died of cancer in 2005, but during his career, he was instrumental in planning for several of Boston’s high-profile events.  Dr. Ferrer and Boston EMS Chief James Hooley presented a plaque to the family in Stephen’s honor.

“When the MIC first opened, some might have wondered how much of an impact it could have on the health of our city, but five years later its success is clear,” said Dr. Ferrer.  “Whether staff there are responding to a snow emergency, a flu outbreak, or helping assist survivors after an unthinkable terrorist attack, they always step up to serve the people of Boston and beyond.”

This morning’s event also marked the ten-year anniversary of the DelValle Institute for Emergency Preparedness, another program of the Boston Public Health Commission.  The Institute was founded in 2003 and named in honor of Manuel DelValle, Jr.  A firefighter with the FDNY, Manuel was killed while responding to the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.  He was the stepson of Dr. Peter Moyer, former Medical Director for Boston’s public safety agencies.  Dr. Moyer and the DelValle family also received a plaque from Dr. Ferrer and Chief Hooley commemorating the occasion.

Informed by the risks posed from threats, vulnerabilities, and public health and safety concerns associated with disasters, DelValle provides high-quality all-hazards training and exercises to enhance skill-based preparedness.  The Office of Public Health Preparedness works closely with Boston EMS to ensure that DelValle’s offerings are relevant to healthcare institutions, public safety agencies, and community and private sector partners.  In total, over 28,000 people throughout the greater Boston region have received training or education through DelValle.