Conventional wisdom

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Are you and your home prepared for a hurricane?

first_imgNow is the time to prepare for hurricane season to ensure the safety of you and your loved ones.Be sure you have these supplies on hand:~Store a supply of bottled water and easy-to-prepare, non-perishable foods. (The National Hurricane Center recommends havingenough to sustain your family for up to seven days.)~Keep cell phones and mobile devices charged, but also use mobile phones sparingly to conserve battery life.~Customers with landlines should keep a corded phone handy. That way, if your cell phone dies or your cordless landline phone runs out of battery, you can still report a power outage or call for help in an emergency.~Have a flashlight with fresh batteries on each floor of your home.~Utilize a battery-operated radio and monitor local weather forecasts. (Tune it to 850WFTL)~Also be sure to have plenty of other hurricane essentials on hand, including vital medications and a first-aid kit.Click HERE for our Hurricane Supplies ChecklistListen to interview with Scott Ranck of Florida Public Utilities for advice on how to prepare your home for a storm.SFS FPUClast_img read more

Thurston County Public Health Successfully Leads Critical COVID-19 Containment Efforts

first_imgFacebook132Tweet0Pin0Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Thurston County Public Health (Public Health) has proven that its systems and planning efforts are effective in keeping our county’s residents safe and healthy. Working closely with Thurston County Emergency Management (EM), Public Health and their team of infectious disease experts have directly contributed to keeping our case count relatively low compared to other Washington counties during the first few months of the pandemic.The Thurston County Emergency Coordination Center (ECC) has been activated in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic since January. The ECC is used as an administrative and logistical hub for natural disaster response such as flooding. Although the ECC has had far fewer people physically in the building during the COVID-19 response, the work is no less urgent. Photo courtesy: Thurston County“One of our primary roles is to ensure our healthcare system is ready and has the capacity to meet the needs of the community,” says Schelli Slaughter, director of Thurston County Public Health and Social Services. Her team has been working closely with hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities and medical first responders to be sure they have the equipment and capacity to meet potential demand. This includes making sure our hospitals had enough ventilators, ICU beds, and personnel. “All local hospitals are committed to reserving bed capacity in the event we need it” explains Slaughter.Early on in the response, there were not enough face masks for front line workers. The Thurston County acting Health Officer, Dr. Diana Yu had the difficult task of allocating available resources to the entities that needed them most. As Thurston County forged on through the crisis, residents took the governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” orders seriously and the supply chain improved. “It was really helpful for us to be able to catch up and make sure our medical facilities had what they needed to prepare for a potential surge,” explains Slaughter.Public Health is also responsible for ensuring that everyone in the county who has been exposed to COVID-19 has a safe place to stay in isolation or quarantine. They have worked closely with Thurston County Emergency Management to secure a contracted care facility with over 100 beds where any individual who has been exposed to COVID-19 can stay in isolation or quarantine depending on their circumstances. Quarantine is for individuals who have been exposed to the disease but are awaiting test results. Isolation is required for all confirmed cases. This level of preparedness is essential for people who live with a high-risk individual and for people who are otherwise unsheltered.All staff and visitors arriving at the ECC must pass through a screening check point where a staff member takes their temperature. Visitors must also verbally confirm they have no symptoms of COVID-19. If an individual has a fever, they must leave immediately. Photo courtesy: Thurston CountyKurt Hardin is the director of Emergency Services, the department where Emergency Management is housed. He oversees the functionality of the Thurston County Emergency Coordination Center (ECC), which has been in an activated state since February for the Nisqually Flooding with a transition in March to serve as a logistical and administrative hub for the local pandemic response. His team is expandable, with 20 personnel working during normal times and up to 200 when there is a demand like we have now. This includes medical, logistical and administrative personnel, as well as PPE distribution for local healthcare. “It’s important that we have the capacity available in case we see a surge,” Hardin explains. “We can’t wait until the need is there to coordinate this system.”Preparedness is a key component of Public Health’s work supported by EM. Another vital aspect of Public Health’s work is contact tracing. Public Health’s team of disease investigators and contact tracers has swelled from 3 staff to 40 in the last 2 months. “This is a small but mighty team of dedicated, inspiring, hardworking individuals with a single purpose of protecting the health of Thurston County,” says Jeanie Knight, division director of disease control and prevention at Public Health.When a person tests positive for COVID-19, Knight’s team of infectious disease experts are responsible for collecting information from that person to aid in the prevention of spreading the disease. Individuals are asked to identify anyone who has been within 6 feet of them for longer than15 minutes in the 48 hours prior to showing symptoms. They are also asked to remember and share every place they have been outside their home. Once the infectious disease team has this information, they can start to determine where the individual contracted the disease and who else needs to be alerted to the possibility of infection. It is extensive investigative work that takes time. “We take this work really seriously and we do it as quickly as we can,” says Slaughter.Among the most important goals of Public Health is ensuring the public has access to reliable information from vetted scientific sources. If you have questions about any aspect of this outbreak or our county’s response, start by visiting the Thurston County Public Health website on COVID-19.One of the challenges Slaughter has observed is that because Thurston County has had a relatively low number of cases, there may be a false sense of security as we move into recovery. “We’ve seen smaller communities around the state be hit with some of the most devastating instances of loss and we don’t want to see that happen here. We don’t want to take that risk. The economy can come back but people cannot,” says Slaughter.Hardin, Slaughter and Knight all reiterate what an incredible team effort this has been on the part of the entire community. “We feel lucky to have the community we do here in Thurston County. I think it’s why our community is doing so well, because we can come together in a time of need,” says Slaughter. “I’m proud of every single person that has been a part of this response.”Sponsoredlast_img read more