We're ready

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Whenever it hits -- Fulton County is ready.

The Fulton County Health Coalition gave the OK to the county's finalized flu pandemic plan at their Feb. 22 meeting.

"The experts say it's going to happen -- we're due," said Fulton County's Officer of Emergency Service, Albert Roork.

A flu pandemic results when an influenza virus makes a dramatic change in its genetic makeup. The sudden mutation creates a virus to which people have never been exposed; therefore, the general population will have no immunity. This lack of natural defense allows the disease to spread quickly and easily from person to person, with devastating consequences. A flu pandemic generally occurs every 35 to 42 years; the most recent was 1968.

In 2006 it became a requirement that every county in the United States develop a flu pandemic plan.

Fulton County's plan is comprised of submissions from area business owners, medical personnel, churches, schools and various county departments.

The plan details how health protection services will be provided, how to assess the severity of situations, how to allocate resources, how to care for the very young or elderly, how to assist the disabled and even how to manage pet control.

The plan also includes a list of basic items individuals will need or precautions they can take to survive this, or any other, disaster:

Family's should rehearse drills in case of an emergency.

Keep extra gas/diesel on hand for vehicles and generators.

Have a prepared emergency kit with extra flash lights, batteries, a battery operated radio and medical supplies.

Keep a supply of bottled water and non-perishable food items.

"This will be a change in lifestyle ... you need to be able to get by for two weeks without going out to the grocery store," Roork said.

Roork said the county's plan has been accepted by the state. "We have something here (flu pandemic plan) that will work," he said.

"Like anything though, the plan is continually ongoing and changing," said Fulton County Health Unit Administrator Wanda Koelling. "But this is definitely a good place to be if this does happen. I know this is a place where people will help each other."

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