New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, supported by a 3-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, established the New York City (NYC) Rodent Control Academy. The goal of the academy is to train pest control and pest management professionals from various city agencies on integrated pest management (IPM) and best practices so that the city can better manage and decrease rodent populations to a “tolerable” level.
The academy engaged Dr. Robert Corrigan, a globally respected rodentologist, to design the curriculum and conduct the course for an 8-month period beginning in October 2005. The curriculum includes such topics as the biology and behavior of rodents, health effects, sanitation and garbage handling, inspections, and regulatory and safety issues. In general, each session trains 40 to 45 students from various city agencies. Each session is composed of 2 days of in-classroom training and one field application training.
By the end of the Academy’s third year, it had held 16 training sessions, and trained a total of 756 participants from city, other states, and federal agencies. Specifically, the Academy trained rodent control professionals and their management from 15 city agencies:
- Department of Health and Mental Hygiene,
- Department of Parks and Recreation,
- Department of Sanitation,
- New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA),
- Department of Housing Preservation and Development,
- Department of Education,
- Department of Transportation,
- Metropolitan Transit Authority,
- Department of Design and Construction,
- Department of Homeless Services,
- Office of Emergency Management,
- Department of Citywide Administrative Services,
- Office of Off Track Betting, and
- Mayor’s Office of Operation.
Representatives from Washington State’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the District of Columbia Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) also participated in the training.
The academy also generated significant national and international interest with media coverage from the New York Times, WABC’s Channel 7, the Associated Press, Newsday, The New York Post, Telemundo, National Public Radio, BBC, and Russian and Dutch television channels.
Challenges to this training program included
- finding suitable training space;
- coordinating with city, state, and federal agencies to develop schedules and lists of trainees;
- coordinating the field exercises to meet course objectives; and
- arranging for accreditation with NYS DEC
Obtaining a large room for 3 consecutive days was our most difficult challenge. Months in advance of each training session, we endured a lengthy administrative process to secure space in a city or federal facility; however, we were successful with each of the training sessions.
The other three challenges dealt with coordination and lengthy follow-up with the agencies involved. Participant lists were submitted by agency administrators to to the academy’s coordinator. Many times this required a lot of follow-up and editing work because agency administrators could not send all their staff members at the same time. Staff members were divided into sessions throughout the length of the training. In addition, the coordinator had to ensure that the field exercise contained the “right” number of students to ensure its success. Although obtaining course accreditation from NYS DEC was also a long, involved administrative process, we were able to manage that as well.
What Is Next
It is anticipated that the Academy will re-start in January 2008. Updates and course specificity will be made to the curriculum to address the needs of commercial pest management professionals (PMPs) (e.g. Orkin, Ecolabs, etc.), restaurant operators, municipalities and restaurant health inspectors. The academy will charge PMPs and restaurant operators a fee to cover our costs.
The academy is expected to train for a period of 8 months per year. Each month’s training session will be composed of 3 consecutive days, containing 45 to 50 participants per session. The first 2 days will train New York agencies and the third will target either commercial PMPs or restaurant operators.
The months June through September 2008 will be used for agency-specific template developments via assessment of their (site) practices as well as work on interagency collaborative efforts. Surveys during this time will also be conducted to evaluate academy effectiveness and feedback. PMPs will not be offered training from June through September because it is the pest control industry’s peak productivity season.
During the May and October 2008 sessions it is anticipated that new city employees and any additional restaurant operators are offered academy training. For these sessions, the curriculum and format would be the same as the “original” academy; that is, 2 days of in-class training followed by a field practicum the third day. Agencies from other states would also participate during these 2 months.
Marketing the Academy:
Commercial PMPs, restaurant operators, and city agencies will be contacted regarding the start of the academy. Commercial PMPs on the City’s approved vendors list will be contacted first directly or via trade and professional organizations. The restaurant operators will be reached via the DOHMH Health Academy. Our mailings (and emails) will include the academy’s Web site link so that interested parties can request detailed information about the New York City (NYC) Rodent Control Academy training ( http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pest/pest-rodent-academy.shtml).
Knowledge gained at the academy has helped promote IPM and best practices for rodent control. Students learned the large difference between managing rodent populations and exterminating them. Those who attended the academy, whether from city, state, or federal agencies, gained a wealth of IPM knowledge that they are sharing and applying. In New York City these best practices are being applied in a multiagency coordinated effort.
For example, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYCHA are partnering and applying IPM in NYCHA’s housing complexes as well as in a select group of private houses and apartments in low-income neighborhoods. This effort has helped reduce—and in some instances eradicate—rodent populations in infested homes and improved the health of residents sensitive to antigens in rodent urine. Our rodent control professionals and other city agencies, such as the Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Sanitation, and many other agencies are working together in applying what they have learned at the academy.
Agencies from throughout the nation have been sending staff members to the academy and are interested in implementing a similar training program. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C., sponsored and implemented a similar 3 day academy in December 2006. Dr. Robert Corrigan was the instructor of the class.