[from Aug. 2006]
On Thursday, August 24th, State Representative Terry Parke hosted “Emergency Preparedness – Homeland Security & Avian Bird Flu Event” – and Poplar Creek Public Library was there! No, not on the speaker panel, but there in the audience taking notes. This was a genuinely informative seminar with a crack panel of knowledgeable speakers who had to answer to an audience that was enthusiastic about learning more. We learned a lot about how local government would respond to a pandemic that we can use to help educate our patrons better!
Terry Parke opened the panel discussion by bringing up the Streamwood microburst event of 1990. That was interesting because most people probably think of “emergency preparedness” as a recent buzz term, but the need for it has been here forever. Dr. Stephen Martin, Jr., Director of the Cook County Dept. of Public Health, set the tone of the evening by stressing that this was the government being honest and straightforward with the public about an important issue. In the case of a pandemic, he said, “The government will get everything right in the first 15 minutes. That’s the easy part; the hard part is the months of recovery that will come after.” He and another speaker from Cook County emphasized the need for faster vaccine development.
The Streamwood and Schaumburg police departments, even the FBI, all were represented and their speakers emphasized the cooperation between departments government now enjoys at all levels.
The Illinois Departments of Agriculture and Public Health, and Sherman Hospital , were represented and their speakers emphasized what the medical response would be specifically to an avian flu pandemic. Like the other departments, they emphasized the cooperative nature of hospitals and public health departments these days, but they also had hard numbers for what services they could offer to how many people in the unlikely event of avian flu spreading to humans in the U.S. There were helpful hints for family preparedness too, and a reminder to volunteer before an emergency happens so you can be trained to know what to do.
Some interesting things came up in the Q&A part of the session too. Someone brought up Citizen Corps as an opportunity for us all to help out. Someone else said the government needs to do more to get information to the people. Good thing so much of it is already at his local library!