Local group hopes to prepare for pandemic
Wadena County officials hope to be prepared in the case of a pandemic, whether it be avian (bird) flu or another disease. A drill could be planned for the fall of the year and involve communications. The drill could outline what to say to the pub...
Wadena County officials hope to be prepared in the case of a pandemic, whether it be avian (bird) flu or another disease.
A drill could be planned for the fall of the year and involve communications. The drill could outline what to say to the public and when to tell the public about a pandemic.
These options were discussed at a joint public health, emergency medical services and emergency management meeting April 20.
The drills could also involve transportation and how a vaccine would be transported in case of an emergency situation, said Wadena County Public Health Director Karen Nelson. There is a need to know how to activate essential personnel such as doctors, nurses and law enforcement in an emergency.
Avian flu is a strain of flu that has infected birds. In some cases in Asian countries, the bird flu has spread to humans through direct contact with infected birds. So far, the virus hasnt spread between humans, but the fear is the virus will evolve and eventually spread from human to human.
Historically, the flu hasnt taken long to spread. When the 1918 Spanish flu arrived in Minnesota, it took only eight days to spread across the state.
Scott McKellep, Wadena County emergency management services director, introduced himself to the joint board. He began his position on April 1. McKellep has been familiarizing himself with the countys emergency operation plan, which is a system so everyone knows what to do in an emergency. It outlines notification, public information, search and rescue, health protocols, security, fire protection and damage control.
The plan also outlines who has what, such as radios, guns and oxygen.
Nelson wanted to revise a list of ham radio operators in Wadena County and make sure the ham radio operators have special name tags so they will have access to locations in case of an emergency. Ham radio operators are essential in the event that telephones arent working, she said.
While many state drills are geared toward possible avian flu pandemic, drills help prepare for all possible pandemics, Nelson said.