By Jim Hill
June 14, 2006
As your local firefighters, we pride ourselves in our prevention and preparedness efforts. Fire safety, public education, emergency preparedness, and community awareness are all important. Our prevention and preparedness efforts do not only make the public we serve safe, but they also allow us to go home at the end of every shift or, if we are volunteers, return to our families after every call-out to an emergency. The emergency we prevent may be the one that injures or kills one of us. In my 27 years in the fire service I have always believed, °People that take action and are not properly educated, trained, and equipped are often injured or killed. When this happens, they are not the solution to the problem they are "Part of the Problem."
In cooperation with the Alaska Department of Public Health, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Ketchikan Fire Department will host a °Pandemic Influenza Conference°± at the Ted Ferry Civic Center on June 20th and 21st. For two days there will be information and training for health-care providers and emergency responders of all kinds. Providers will receive valuable information on how to handle a possible outbreak. Training on proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), hand washing, infection control, stockpiling of supplies, communication strategies, and the basics of medical treatment will all be discussed. Local community and business leaders will also receive information about dealing with the effects of a possible outbreak. At 7:00 PM on June 20th at the Ted Ferry Civic Center there will be a "Town Hall" meeting for all concerned citizens. Information will be provided and your questions will be answered regarding "Bird Flu°", "Avian Flu", "Pandemic Influenza", what we can do to prevent and outbreak, and what our course of action will be should an outbreak occur. There will be a Public forum to discuss individual preparedness, dead/sick bird reporting procedures, basic information, Q&A, etc.
Now is the time to get educated! Now is the time to get the answers to our questions! We don't need to be paranoid or go into a panic. We don't need to shut our doors to the outside world, bury our heads in the sand, or pretend this problem doesn't exist. We need to be informed, we need to be prepared, and we need to have a plan. Bring your questions to the Ted Ferry Civic Center. Get informed! Get the Facts! Whether or not Pandemic Influenza becomes a reality, we will be that much more "prepared" for whatever comes our way.
If any of you need more information, you can email me at jimh[at]city.ketchikan.ak.us or visit the Federal Government's Department of Health and Human Services website at http://www.hhs.gov/pandemicflu
I look forward to seeing all of you at the conference.
About: Assistant Fire Chief
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