Lab Matters Spring 2019 - Page 34

PUBLIC HEALTH PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE Celebrating 20 Years of the Laboratory Response Network: Partnering in Preparedness and Response by Tyler Wolford, MS, manager, Emergency Preparedness and Response In 2019, the Laboratory Response Network (LRN) will celebrate two decades of laboratory preparedness and response for biological, chemical, radiological and emerging threats. The nationwide, all-hazards network has come far since 1999, when public health laboratory scientists were largely classically-trained microbiologists and chemists. In the years since its creation, the LRN has played an instrumental role in improving the public health infrastructure by helping to boost laboratory capacity. Laboratories are better equipped, their staff levels are increasing, and laboratories are employing advanced technologies. Improving capability and capacity is only a piece of the puzzle. LRN laboratories also build and sustain partnerships with clinical laboratories, first responders, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Department of Defense and others, which are critical to respond to evolving public health threats. LRN in Action million residents. The partnerships among the Texas LRN laboratories and organizations such as the Texas State Chemist, the Brooke Army Medical Center, and FBI makes for a strong network able to respond to a variety of biological and chemical threats. Although members stay in constant contact through conference calls and email, the Texas Department of State Health Services convenes these laboratories once a year to discuss preparedness and response efforts. Opportunities like this facilitate partnership building among the Texas LRN laboratories and are crucial in the success of preparedness and response efforts in Texas. The LRN has successfully responded to a variety of domestic and international threats since 1999. In the beginning, laboratories focused on just a few biological threat agents. Over the years, LRN has evolved to respond to chemical and radiological threats, as well as emerging infectious diseases such as Ebola. LRN is transforming into a multipurpose tool with a focus on new technologies and laboratory efficiency initiatives that improve the capacity and capability to respond to new threats. In addition, the core infrastructure of LRN is being leveraged for expanding and improving coverage in high-risk population areas. Via these changes, LRN will continue to maintain strategic partnerships and provide efficient, accurate testing across the network. The Minnesota Laboratory System (MLS) is a statewide network of laboratories established in 2001 by the Minnesota Department of Health Public Health Laboratory to facilitate communication and coordination. MLS consists of more than 70 public health and clinical laboratories, as well as veterinary and agriculture laboratories which serve as sentinel laboratories in LRN. In addition to Unique Networks within the LRN The state of Texas has ten LRN member laboratories at the Reference level who provide testing coverage for over 28 Laboratory Response Network (LRN) responses to biological, chemical, radiological, and emerging infectious disease threats since 1999. 32 LAB MATTERS Spring 2019 PublicHealthLabs @APHL APHL.org