Cal Student Assistance for Public Health (Cal STAPH) is an official student group at UC Berkeley that provides training and response opportunities to public health graduate students by assisting state and local health departments in California during outbreaks and other public health emergencies.
The mission of Cal STAPH is to train and deploy students to assist state and local health agencies in responding to urgent and emergency public health threats. Through partnerships with health departments in the San Francisco Bay Area, Cal STAPH links students with applied public health experience and departments with needed surge capacity.
Cal Student Assistance for Public Health (Cal STAPH), formerly Cal Student Emergency Investigation & Surveillance (Cal SEIS), was developed by a group of UC Berkeley School of Public Health graduate students in Spring 2010. Representing various disciplines within the School of Public Health, they were interested in creating more practical opportunities for students and facilitating training in the many aspects of public health emergency response. With the support of the Center for Infectious Diseases & Emergency Readiness (CIDER), a CDC-funded Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center, the UC Berkeley Center for Public Health Practice (CPHP), and a National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) Advanced Practice Center, the group formally launched its first year of activities the fall semester of 2010.
At the beginning of the first semester, 68 master and doctoral students responded to participate in the student group from departments such as Infectious Diseases & Vaccinology, Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Health & Social Behavior and Environmental Health Sciences. Students were interested in receiving additional training in outbreak investigation, epidemiological methods, first aid/CPR and basic disaster preparedness and response.
During the first year, members responded to a variety of public health needs, trainings and lectures. The kick-off event for the year was the annual City of Berkeley Division of Public Health Flu Clinic. In addition, the group participated in measles contact investigation with the City of Berkeley Public Health Division, pertussis case management with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and public health emergency preparedness and support such as training on Infectious Disease Emergency Response Toolkit, Urban Shield full-scale exercise, Complex Humanitarian Emergency Leadership and Training Program and tabletop exercise evaluation. Additionally, trainings included first aid, community assessment methods, outbreak investigations, exercise evaluations and a special presentation by the DMAT CA-6 Team.
In addition to the first year of activities, the Executive Team reached out to 12 Bay Area Counties through the Association of Bay Area Health Officials (ABAHO) Public Health Preparedness Committee to provide awareness of the formation of the group and determine some potential public health needs the first year of operations. The long-standing relationships the group had with CIDER and the various county public health agencies allowed for more formal relationships to develop such as a Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Berkeley Public Health Division.
Cal STAPH collaborated with the UC Berkeley CPHP and received support for a 50% Coordinator position for Cal STAPH through the CPHP’s CALPACT grant for five years beginning in the fall of 2010. The center also provided a coordinator during the first year to provide some support during the establishment of the group. In addition, collaboration with the Center for Health Leadership (CHL) provided Cal STAPH with three CHL Fellows to work with the Executive Committee on conducting local public health needs assessments and student focus groups to identify need followed by student interest and capabilities.
Graduate Student Emergency Response Programs
Cal STAPH is part of a network of Graduate Student Emergency Response Programs (GSERPs) at Schools of Public Health across the nation. While there is no formal coordinating body for these programs, we have received inspiration, support and guidance from other established GSERPs. In particular, we would like to thank:
- Team Epi-Aid at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
- Student Outbreak and Response Team (SORT) at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health