Making A Difference

By Steve Divine, Director of Environmental Health and Safety

Each day we are asked to provide services in the community that are intended to protect the health and safety of our neighbors, friends, families and strangers.  As is often the case in our profession, the results or effectiveness of those actions we do are not always immediately visible.  Sometimes you may wonder if you are making a difference, are you really protecting the public?  Are the education and enforcement measures you are tasked with reasonable? Are requirements and protocols of our programs worth doing?  Sometimes what you do can appear to be a black box with no palpable measurable pay-off.

However, I want to assure you that in the end what we do as a group and what you do as an individual part of that group does matter. It does make a difference. And sometimes it is possible to see an immediate and positive result; a real measurable pay-off.

On Thursday afternoon, January 24th, I spoke to a gentleman who had been bitten by a raccoon he had trapped in a cage in his backyard. It bit him while he was handling the cage. He was just going to release it in the woods somewhere, but was told by a medical provider to contact us first. He was not overly concerned about the bite and said that the animal seemed to look and act healthy. After the usual animal bite discussion, I convinced him to take it to a vet to be euthanized and prepped for testing. He did so late that afternoon. Because it was late Thursday afternoon, we would not be able to mail it to the lab until Monday morning, January 28th.  I was not comfortable with that. Stacy New (pictured right) picked up the specimen and volunteered to drive it to the lab Friday morning, which he did.

On Monday we were notified by the lab that the raccoon was positive for rabies.  This is the first time in recent memory a raccoon submitted by our department has tested positive for rabies. The victim was immediately notified and was to begin his post exposure rabies treatment shortly thereafter.

I want to congratulate Stacy and the office for actions that very likely saved a man’s life today. You can only imagine what could have been a tragedy for the victim and his family. This is just another example of why we do what we do, and why what you do everyday matters… even during the times when it is hard to see the pay-off.