Moffat County health agencies plan for worst
December 6, 2001
By JOSH NICHOLS
Daily Press writer
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, combined with recent anthrax scares and a war waging overseas has left many people asking “What if?”
“What if” a bomb were to strike or “what if” there was an outbreak of a deadly disease.
Several agencies in Moffat County have already asked “what if,” and have decided to come together to develop a plan.
People involved with public health, the emergency medical response community, law enforcement agencies and The Memorial Hospital recently held their first meeting to discuss how they would work together if a disaster were to occur in Moffat County.
“The point of the committee is to come together with a communitywide plan,” said Marilyn Bouldin, director of community care for the Visiting Nurse Association. “At the first meeting we did some information sharing and created a road map of where we’re going.”
The goal is to develop a system that will allow health and emergency response providers a more effective way to deal with a wide variety of emergency and public health challenges they might encounter in the future.
Challenges include chemical and biological threats, mass casualties from any cause and public health disease issues.
“Our main concern is getting people accurate and timely information to prevent a panic in our community,” Bouldin said. “Resources need to be identified in the community, including who has what equipment, and how many CPR certified people there are in the community.
“It’s a process where we all need to work together as a team,” she said.
The group met for the first time on Nov. 27, and plans to meet again Dec. 17.
In these early stages, the group is:
Reviewing existing community plans for responding to public health and large-scale safety threats within the community.
Improving existing community protocols and developing new protocols for responding to overt and covert bioterrorist events.
Responding to federal and state requirements related to preparedness for bioterrorist events.
Clarifying the roles of member agencies involved in the public health and emergency response team.
Sending members of the local team to attend ongoing educational programs related to emergency preparedness.
Collaborating with the Routt County Public Health and Emergency Response Team.
Deb Lowe, branch manager of the Northwest Colorado Red Cross, said Sept. 11 made agencies aware that there was a need to come together and develop a plan.
“It’s good everyone’s working together,” she said. “The county will benefit.”
As in any disaster situation, Lowe said the Red Cross would take the responsibility of feeding and sheltering people, but there would be one significant difference.
“The main difference is we would shelter people in an undisclosed location,” she said. “If it were an attack situation you wouldn’t want to give the location of a large group of people.”
The agencies have to be prepared for anything.
“That’s the purpose of the committee, to prepare for anything,” she said.
Moffat County Sheriff Buddy Grinstead said there has always been plans in place, but the recent terrorist attacks have made agencies change their focus.
“We’ve always worked together, but this has made us jump to different issues we haven’t dealt with in the past,” he said. “It’s worked out great to have these entities get together with the planning.”