Grand County preps for Ebola Preparedness Exercise
November 4, 2016
Grand County Public Health will be holding an Ebola Emergency Preparedness Exercise from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday Nov. 7 at the CSU Extension Office located within the Middle Park Fair and Rodeo facility in Kremmling.
The exercise is meant to prepare local public health officials and emergency preparedness coordinators for any potential contagious disease outbreaks in the high Rockies. Ebola is being used as a baseline disease for the scenario but the lessons learned from the exercise could be applied to any contagious disease, knowledge of great value to our local public health officials.
For thousands of years, as human beings have formed themselves into complex civic societies, we have learned to overcome the adversities that affect us broadly. As a species we have become quite talented at mitigating several issues that have historically posed extreme dangers to human society.
We war far less often that we used to. We have learned to, for the most part, overcome localized droughts and famines. But the one thing humans are arguable best at is preventing serious contagious diseases from killing us all.
Centuries ago the plague killed nearly half the world’s population over the course of a few years. Less than 100 years ago the Spanish Flu, which ironically enough did not originate in Spain but likely began in Haskell County Kansas, killed more people in about 18 months than died in World War I over the course of four-years.
More recently the nations of western Africa found themselves battling the terrifying disease known as Ebola. The disease was brought to the US primarily by selfless healthcare workers who had gone to Africa to assist in the disease fighting efforts. While the situation was quickly contained in the US there was, for a brief period in time, a sense of panic sweeping the nation.
To better address any future disease outbreaks the CDC provided Public Health departments around the country with funding to conduct emergency preparedness exercises. Brene Belew-LaDue, Director for Grand County Public Health, explained the exercise will primarily focus on how various Public Health departments, local first responders, healthcare workers and surrounding governments will communicate, coordinate and respond to any potential disease outbreaks.
As such county residents should not expect to see people in HAZMAT suits. “We won’t be acting it out,” Belew-LaDue said. The exercise will feature a specific outbreak scenario that officials will “respond” to, while reviewing best practices for disseminating information to other entities involved in the response along with providing information to the public.