Archive for Wednesday, May 8, 2002

County preparing for attack

Group ponders reactino to possible bioterrorism

May 8, 2002

Even a bioterrorism planning session can have its lighter moments.

Frankie Jackson, Leavenworth County health department administrator, opened Friday's county planning session with personal introductions and cookies.

"When we start talking doom and gloom, it's scary," Jackson said. "So we've got to have fun doing this and hope to God we never need it."

Jackson has been appointed to lead the county in planning for the worst a bioterrorism or chemical attack.

"The program is mandated by the federal government," Jackson said.

According to Jackson, the feds plan to back the mandate with dollars.

"There will be a sizeable amount of bioterrorism funding from the federal government that will filter down to the states and to the local level," Jackson said.

"The state of Kansas has received some bioterrorism money already."

Jackson said she realizes that most entities in the county, such as hospitals, schools, prisons, law enforcement departments and Fort Leavenworth, likely have their own emergency plans in place.

Sgt. Donald Noble, Fort Leavenworth, agreed. He provided Jackson with a review of the medical aspects of the federal response plan, saying, in the event of a disaster, the health department would coordinate the medical care.

"Everyone has to have someone leading the charge," Noble said. "As far as the medical health portion, that's Frankie."

Attending the session were county, school, pharmacy, mortuary and medical representatives.

Chuck Magaha, Leavenworth County's director of emergency management, said various agencies would work together in the event of a disaster.

"It's opening the dialogue between agencies," Magaha said.

Magaha termed two of these agencies "first line defenses," explaining that school nurses might be the first to notice an unusual disease striking children, or a mortician might realize that several people have died from unusual symptoms.

"Things like that that may not have been communicated before now might be communicated as a team effort," Magaha said.

The county's plans also will focus on availability of patient care.

"This would be one of the biggest things for this area," Noble said. "We have a lot of people who live here. We would have to have someone with the medical record and bed tracking capabilities, someone who knows what hospitals have beds open."

And, Jackson said, the county would have to be prepared in case temporary hospitals would have to be set up in public buildings. The county's plan will designate such sites.

Other considerations discussed Friday touched on communications, mortuary services, pharmaceuticals, pastoral care, day care facilities and rapid response "SMART" (special medical augmentation response teams) teams that can be called in the event of a disaster. These are highly specialized teams that are deployed within 12 hours of notification. Individual SMART teams are trained in 43 areas, including trauma and critical care, stress management, medical command and control, pastoral care, preventive care, burns, psychiatrists and social workers.

Jackson said it's important that all the towns in Leavenworth County be involved in disaster planning.

"They're just kind of waiting for Leavenworth County and city to take care of it," Jackson said. "We will, ultimately, but they need to start making plans, too."

The next meeting is set for 2 p.m. July 19 at the Leavenworth County Health Department. For more information, call the health department at (913) 250-2000.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.