Western Mass Public Health Coalitions Advisory Group
The Western Public Health Advisory Group (WAG) consists of representatives from the four Western Massachusetts Public Health Coalitions from Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden and Hampshire Counties. The WAG has adopted a strategy of leveraging existing resources, applying for regional grants and working together to support its core mission to advance public health preparedness in each county and across the region.
The WAG applied for and was granted its second Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prevention Specialist (PS) for an additional two years to look at ways to improve regional disease reporting and follow up with the State, providers and hospitals. Western Mass is the first region to be granted a PS as most of the PS are assigned to county or city health departments. The WAG also supports a public health representative on the Western Regional Homeland Security Advisory Council and sends representatives to the Public Health State and Local Advisory Committee (LSAC) and the Local Public Health Institute (LPHI).
Working together, the WAG has implemented and supported multiple projects around all-hazards emergency and pandemic planning for Individuals Requiring Additional Assistance (IRAA). The WAG has also developed regional relationships with its essential planning and response partners including fire, police, EMS (Emergency Medical Services), Emergency Management Directors (EMD), MEMA (Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, DPH (Department of Public Health), schools, hospitals, the Faith Community and Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (VOAD).
Priority projects have included writing Standard Operating Guidelines (SOG) for specific public health emergencies, Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning, personal emergency preparedness (PEP), emergency risk communications, food in emergencies, regional communications drills, Medical Reserve Corps activities and support for regional Homeland Security projects around sheltering, mass receiving, pandemic planning, critical infrastructure, command and control, situational awareness, disaster recovery, and Disaster Animal Response Teams (DART) and Access and Functional needs planning and response.
The WAG and the Public Health Coalitions invite everyone to have a plan, get a kit and stay informed.