The federal government considers the Super Bowl to be an “event of national significance.”  A host of public safety and health activities are implemented during events of national significance.  Our (ADHS) activities began with the Pro Bowl last weekend and finish after the Super Bowl on February 1.  We have 3 primary functions: BioWatch and Suspicious Substance Testing, and Enhanced Public Health Surveillance.

BioWatch Testing

BioWatch is a US Department of Homeland Security program developed to detect pathogens in outdoor air in the event of a terrorist attack.  It’s 100% federally funded.  There are several sampling stations in Maricopa County that routinely sample outdoor air 365 days/year.  Our ADHS Laboratory tests the filters daily for a number of pathogens.  Our Laboratory will be testing the filters at an enhanced frequency over the next couple of weeks.

Suspicious Substance Testing

The ADHS Public Health Laboratory is the designated state laboratory for testing suspicious substances identified by AZ first responders.  Our job is to determine whether suspect powders etc. contain biological or chemical agents of concern to law enforcement.  This protocol involves multiple agencies including ADHS, the local health department, the FBI, and DPS.  Events like the Super Bowl create a heightened level of awareness among law enforcement…usually resulting in a higher than usual demand for our testing services.  We’ve adjusted our scheduling during that week to make sure we have enough personnel to meet timelines.

Enhanced Surveillance

ADHS and Maricopa County Public Health Department will be using our Emergency Medical Resource (EMResource) system to monitor, gather, and disseminate information on hospital system status, conducting illness monitoring at urgent care centers, and monitoring poison control center calls related to Super Bowl events.  These temporary enhanced surveillance activities will enable the public health and healthcare system to quickly identify health threats, enabling us to more rapidly implement public health interventions.