Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, public health agencies across West Virginia have been engaged in the process of emergency preparedness to help keep our communities safer from any possible future disasters that may occur. The GTCHD staff works with local, regional, state, and federal emergency responders to ensure communication and protect the residents of Taylor County. As a citizen, the best action is to be prepared with the right equipment and knowledge.
To protect the general public from the growing specter of acts of terrorism and new emerging diseases through planning, detection, communication, response, public information and training.
To join with what has been typically identified as “first responders” (law enforcement, fire, and EMS) and other community responders to develop, implement, test, evaluate, and modify community based “all hazards” planning so that natural and/or man-made disasters can be responded to more effectively.
A common message among all partners is the need to educate the general public that everyone should develop plans and have necessary resources available to support their basic needs for at least 72 hours should a disaster occur.
To strengthen and/or create new methods to identify the presence of a disease, more commonly referred to as a biological threat, whether naturally occurring or intentionally introduced as an act of terrorism. While public health still continues to enhance its ability to detect the presence of chemical and radiological hazards, disease still continues to be elusive to detection by technological means. As a result, public health is required to renew efforts and/or develop better methods to monitor the health of the general public to more rapidly recognize the potential presence of a disease outbreak.
To enhance communication with our community partners and the general public with the following:
Health Alert Network: A multi-facetted system established to receive and/or generate critical information related to the health of the general public and rapidly disseminate that information to the appropriate community partners so that such information can be effectively responded to as necessary.
Public Information: To develop a system using traditional media resources and/or other methods to rapidly and effectively provide accurate, appropriate, and timely information to the general public on issues related to public health. In the event of a public health emergency, this system can be used to deliver emergency notifications, instructions, and information in a timely manner. The general public is then able to make appropriate decisions and take needed actions to protect their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of their family.
To work in conjunction and cooperation with our community partners to develop and/or enhance systems or methods to respond to possible public health emergencies, whether natural in occurrence or the result of potential acts of terrorism.
There are numerous ways in which public health contributes to the overall response to these potential situations, but the most significant ones are as follows:
Strategic National Stockpile and/or Vendor Managed Inventory: Public Health, along with State and Federal agencies, continue to develop flexible systems designed to rapidly vaccinate and/or provide drug therapies to emergency response personnel and the general public in response to a disaster. Potential responses include:
Accessing specially created stockpiles of vaccines, medications and/or other specialized medical equipment and supplies to supplement locally available resources.
Developing sites and resources to supplement pre-existing healthcare delivery points to assist in the rapid vaccination/medication of the general public.
With the addition of this enhanced capacity it is hoped that necessary actions can be taken in a timely manner to eliminate and/or significantly reduce the effects of a disease outbreak, either accidental or intentional. This will also alleviate the demand of existing healthcare services which will allow them to care for those who are critically ill and/or injured. In dealing with instances of disease outbreak, time is such a critical factor. It is imperative that adequate capacity is available to care for large portions of the general public who might be dispersed over large geographic areas in as little as 48 hours.
Development of Additional Surge Capacity: Public health continues to work together with hospitals, healthcare providers, and other organizations to develop “surge” capacity plans. This will enhance the ability of a hospital to house and care for a large number of victims as a result of a disaster. “Surge” capacity increases what is normally 100% capacity of a hospital.
To work within the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department and with local healthcare providers, and community partners, to provide training related to the following:
Recognizing diseases not normally found within the general population
Evaluating appropriate methods to manage outbreaks of such diseases
Provide necessary actions to effectively protect healthcare and other responders from exposure to such diseases
Provide subject matter training to our community partners, the general public, and other organizations related to terrorism and public health.
Threat Preparedness Coordinator