February Events Test Disaster Planning, Coordination

By Stella Barber, Disaster Preparedness Coordinator

Two events in February demonstrated the unique responsibilities of the Northern Kentucky Health Department – one event tested the agency’s preparedness plans and the second event tested our ability to support a natural disaster response.

Point of Dispensing Drill

On Feb. 1, the Health Department jurisdiction tested our ability to deliver medications to local first responders in the event of an anthrax incident. The drill was highly successful.

NKY Health staff worked with Emergency Management Agency officials in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties, along with local fire and police officials on the logistics for the drill.

The Health Department prepared almost 100 simulated medication/information boxes, and arranged to deliver the boxes to designated distribution sites. County emergency management officials established the distribution sites and led the communication efforts for the fire and police agencies.

Almost a dozen of Northern Kentucky Medical Reserve Corps volunteers were activated, received just-in-time training and successfully managed each site’s distribution — ensuring every agency picked up their designated box of supplies and received important information about the medication.

It was successful with 100% of the fire and police agencies in Boone, Campbell, Grant, and Kenton receiving their medication boxes within the designated time frame.

Flooding Response

On Feb. 23, the Health Department was notified that the Campbell County Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross would be opening an emergency shelter at the Alexandria Community Center due to flooding in the Silver Grove area.

The Northern Kentucky region rarely has the need to open an emergency shelter, but when one does open, many agencies support the shelter’s operation.

The Health Department is responsible for inspecting the shelter to ensure safe operations and providing epidemiological surveillance. Several relatively new staff in the Environmental Health and Safety, and Population Health divisions joined our more seasoned staff in a visit to the shelter that following Monday, Feb. 26.

In addition, Health Department staff shared information on safe flood clean-up with affected residents and food service establishments.