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Feature
What if?...
Public Health doorstep, the need for Agencies covering other For Public Health the
Emergencies of direct links with those areas will be represented completion of the
International Concern countries is paramount to dependent on the type of emergency does not occur
(PHEIC) save time and initiate an incident and the until the community
early emergency response. requirement for specific aspects have returned to
Emergencies or major technical advice, such as normality. Whether it be
incidents know no Scientific and Technical the Meteorological Office, addressing the clean up of
boundaries; in 2005 the Advice Cell (STAC) Utilities and Transport contamination, the repair
World Health Organisation operators. of people’s homes or
updated their International Current thinking on the most supporting people through
Health Regulations and appropriate way to get the The STAC will be expected the mental health issues
introduced for the first right information (including to provide advice on issues that have arisen out of the
time, requirements on public health information in such as the impact on the incident. They all
jurisdictions to address the any emergency), from the health of the population, contribute to the health
potential for major most skilled and public safety, impacts of the event and
incidents/emergencies to knowledgeable people, is environmental protection, require a partnership
cross borders into another the formation of a Scientific and sampling and approach with other
country. The most famous and Technical Advice Cell. monitoring of any stakeholders to be
incident and the catalyst The composition and contaminants. resolved.
for this thinking was the function of the STAC will be
1986 Chernobyl nuclear incident specific and
incident when a plume of tailored to local
radioactive material requirements. Members of
crossed Northern Europe the cell should have the
leaving a deposit of necessary knowledge and
radioactive material, which skills to collectively provide
to this day, still affects scientific and technical
some high ground. The advice. The cell which in the
most recent incident to first instance would be led
occur in the UK, that by a Public Health
threatened to invoke this specialist, will include
procedure, was the specialists in health, the
Buncefield Oil Terminal fire environment, and site
when the black smoke specific responders (site /
from the fire threatened to infrastructure owner /
cross the Channel. operator). However, the
lead for the cell may
PHEIC requires that each change dependent on
jurisdiction has in place a the nature of the
procedure to notify the emergency.
WHO of these incidents. In
Jersey we are linked to
WHO through the UK and
the reporting procedure
that begins at Public Health
links with the Health
Protection Agency Centre
for Infections in Colindale
irrespective of whether the
incident is Chemical,
Biological or Radiological in
nature. Whilst this
procedure is useful, for
jurisdictions like
Jersey that are
close to other
countries and have
important potentially
polluting industries on its


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