Bioterrorism and Disaster Response Services

Bioterrorism and Disaster Response Services

Concern for security and public safety has heightened since the terrorist attacks on our country on September 11, 2001. In response to the increased threat of the terrorist use of biological agents, funding has been set aside to assist community agencies to be prepared to meet these challenges if they occur. The Harper County Health Department has been involved in the development of a plan to prepare ourselves and the community on how to respond to a bioterrorist event. This planning includes training staff, community partners, and volunteers on how to be vigilant for signs and symptoms of infectious diseases, identifying the involved disease, and developing a rapid response plan with appropriate treatment for effected individuals in the community and taking actions to minimize the number of people who are exposed to the biological event.

Actions In Case of Bioterrorism

If an emergency event is biologically based, the Harper County Health Department would have the primary role in utilizing resources available to the agency in having samples tested for rapid identification of the causative agent, and obtaining and dispensing appropriate medications to protect lives. Our agency has access to a number of specialized services, including the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC), to obtain assistance in verifying the existence of an infectious disease or biological event, and obtaining the resources for the community response plan.

As with any type of emergency or disaster response in the community, our agency would not be working alone. We would depend on personnel from medical agencies, emergency management services, law enforcement, schools, pharmacies, the media, churches, and the community at large to set up and implement the best response plan to rapidly reach as many members of the community as possible.

Community Value of Bioterrorism Preparedness

While it is the hope of every individual in our agency that implementation of these plans will never be necessary, we have the responsibility to be prepared for this possibility. The meetings with community partners and the planning process are extremely valuable in making all individuals and agencies more aware of the resources we have as a community and trying to find ways to build on those resources to develop tools to respond to any type of emergency event in our community. The planning efforts for responding to a bioterrorism event or a community disaster demonstrates another way the staff of the Harper County Health Department are dedicated to serving the public and maintaining a healthy community in Harper County.

Natural Disasters

Storm season is upon us. Please take a moment to review these storm safety tips:

  • Thunderstorms - If you can hear thunder, lightning is a danger. Take shelter if skies look threatening. Stay inside and away from doors and windows. Because lightning can travel through electrical lines, turn off or unplug all electrical appliances.
  • Tornadoes - Tornadoes are often accompanied by heavy rain, thunder, lightning, or hail. In threatening weather, listen for authorized watches and warnings. If a tornado warning alarm sounds, take cover in a basement or first floor interior room without windows. Never stay inside a mobile home or take shelter beneath one. Go to the nearest shelter or take cover in a ditch or depression in the ground away from the home.
  • Floods - Floodwaters are extremely powerful. Just two feet of water can sweep away a car, and as little as six inches can cause unstable footing. Remember that flood conditions change rapidly and water can be much deeper than it appears. If your home floods, turn off utilities and keep them off until authorities say it's safe to turn them on. Don't pump water out of your basement until floodwater recedes.