Preparedness was the theme of the Fulton County Flu Pandemic meeting that took place Sept. 15 at the NAEC Orange Room.
"We will not have federal help. We're on our own and need to plan for the worst case scenario," said Salem Police Chief and Director of Emergency Services Al Roork.
Delores Jones, communicable disease nurse specialist for northeast Arkansas, was the guest speaker for the Friday evening meeting that gathered local officials and area business owners to discuss how the county will react in the face of a pandemic flu.
"The question is not will it happen, but when. There is a 30- to 40-year gap, and we're due," Jones said.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services a flu pandemic is possible when an influenza virus makes a dramatic change in its genetic makeup. This sudden shift creates a virus to which the general population has never been exposed and therefore has no immunity. And it is this widespread vulnerability that makes a pandemic possible and so potentially devastating.
Meeting organizer and Fulton County Health Unit Administrator Wanda Koelling set a Nov. 1 deadline for community leaders to submit a plan outlining actions that will be taken in the wake of a pandemic flu occurrence.
"The only way to know you're prepared is to exercise your plan," Jones said.