(Part 1 in a series of articles marking Public Health Week in Oswego County) Oswego County Health Department: Emergency Preparedness
A strong public health system is essential to improving and protecting people’s health.
The role of public health may be most visible in the face of threats such as Zika or Ebola, but in reality, public health works to protect us every single day.
Whether it’s investigating foodborne illness outbreaks, monitoring the quality of water, ensuring that all children have access to life-saving vaccines, or providing nursing care from infancy to end of life, public health protects the fundamental building blocks of healthy people and communities.
That’s why public health can’t just suspend its everyday functions when an emergency such as Zika strikes.
Public health must be able to maintain its core functions and support its ability to rapidly respond to serious disease threats and disasters.
Today, the Oswego County Health Department provides a look at Public Health Emergency Preparedness.
OSWEGO COUNTY – One function of the Oswego County Health Department’s public health mission, which often goes unnoticed, is planning for public health emergencies.
Whether those emergencies are caused by natural disasters such as snow or ice storms, disease outbreaks like measles or mumps, or threats from terrorism, public health workers spend hundreds of hours a year planning and practicing to be able to identify, respond and recover from these threats.
Disasters and emergencies can happen at any time, often without warning. Knowing which disasters can happen in your community and how to prepare for them can help you be ready in times of emergency.
“When people prepare and practice for an emergency in advance, it makes a real difference in their ability to take immediate and informed action,” said Diane Oldenburg, Senior Public Health Educator with the Oswego County Health Department. “Being prepared for disasters is a shared responsibility. It takes all of us in the community working together to effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters.”
The Oswego County Health Department regularly develops and practices plans to help the community respond to emergencies. Exercises to practice managing a large shipment of medical supplies or providing antibiotics to a large number of residents are a couple of examples of putting plans to practice.
“We have worked to engage a variety of community partners, such as the Girl Scouts, the local colleges, and health care agencies to help us and help them prepare for public health emergencies,” said Sonia Robinson, Public Health Educator with Oswego County Health Department.
All Oswego County residents can take basic steps to help prepare for disasters:
– Create a household emergency plan and practice it!
– Make a kit! The emergency supply kit should be robust and contain enough food, water, medications and other products to last seven to ten days.
– Stay informed! In addition to getting emergency information and updates through radio and television news, you can sign up for NY-ALERT at https://www.nyalert.gov/ to receive emergency information via the web, cell phone, email, and other technologies.
– Get involved! Join a recognized disaster volunteer organization such as the American Red Cross, Medical Reserve Corp, or Citizen Corps.
To find more information on how to prepare for emergencies and get involved in community efforts visit nyprepare.gov or contact the health department weekdays at 315-349-3587.