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Region 8 Public Health Office

Public Health Preparedness

Hurricane Preparedness

Mass Casualty Planning
HRSA (U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration) has awarded funding to all states through the National Bioterrorism Hospital Preparedness Program in order to:

  1. Upgrade the preparedness of hospitals
  2. Develop and implement regional plans
  3. Improve the capacity of hospitals, EMS systems and other health care entities

Region 8 holds monthly mass casualty planning meetings to ensure a coordinated healthcare response to a mass casualty event.  We have regular attendance from each of the hospitals in our Region as well as representatives from the Palmetto Chapter of the American Red Cross, Beaufort County DSS, Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, and Volunteers in Medicine.

Most recently, this planning group has paired with local amateur (“HAM”) radio operators to establish infrastructure and trained individuals that would enable each of our local hospitals to communicate in the event of total communications failure.  DHEC is funding the necessary equipment at each hospital that will give them this amateur radio capability.

Pandemic Influenza Education and Planning
A flu pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine.  The disease spreads globally, is easily transmitted person-to-person, and causes serious illness and death.  It is difficult to predict when the next influenza pandemic will occur, but whenever it does, everyone will be at risk.  An especially severe influenza pandemic could lead to high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss.

The threat of pandemic influenza is something we should take seriously.  Preparations are currently underway in our area to ensure that we are better prepared to respond to an influenza pandemic.  Posters, checklists, and pandemic influenza literature such as magnets and stickers, have been created to educate and raise community awareness of this illness.

Region 8 began to provide pandemic influenza awareness in the summer of 2006 by pulling together the leaders in our community in order to collect guidance as to how we need to educate the six target sectors of our community:  businesses, individuals & families, government, schools, the faith community, and the healthcare sector.

We continue to provide presentations and distribute information to all sectors of our community to ensure that our residents and our government are ready to respond in the event of a pandemic disaster.

South Carolina has recently received funds to prepare for a pandemic.  While we will likely find birds in the U.S. with H5N1 (a particular strain of bird flu) at some point in the near future, the scientific community is unsure if H5N1 will ever gain the ability to pass from human to human.  Now is the time to prepare in advance.  Since a pandemic would affect all sectors of the community, federal guidelines require that all counties have a pandemic flu plan.  Region 8 has worked with each county to ensure that county-specific pandemic flu plans are in place.

Pandemic influenza planning has resulted in the development of County Triage Operations to provide for pharmaceutical distribution and vaccination as well as staff-sharing plans with healthcare facilities that will allow our community to respond in a coordinated fashion to a pandemic.

For general information on pandemic influenza, go to:  http://www.pandemicflu.gov/

For more information on how to prepare your family, workplace, or school, go to: http://www.pandemicflu.gov/plan/checklists.html

To request a presentation or additional information on pandemic influenza, please contact Region 8 at (843) 525-7603.

Medical Reserve Corps (MRC)
Region 8 received approval from the U.S. Surgeon General’s Office to develop a Medical Reserve Corps (MRC).  A local Medical Reserve Corp provides a means for healthcare and other volunteers to supplement existing medical and public health staff during a disaster.

Medical Reserve Corps were created in 2002 in order to better handle mass causality events, such as hurricanes, terrorist attacks and other disasters.  These events emphasized the need for a supplemental healthcare workforce that can be mobilized to respond to health-related disasters.

Local MRC volunteers are also a good resource for helping the community with health initiatives such as health fairs, assisting with mass vaccinations and educating communities on emerging health issues. 

The Region 8 MRC has been named the Coastal South Carolina Medical Reserve Corps.  We currently recruiting volunteers.

If you’d like to volunteer, click on the link below to access our secure website in order to enter your information.
www.scserv.gov

To learn more about the concept of a Medical Reserve Corps, go to http://www.medicalreservecorps.gov

 

Please follow this link for additional Public Health Preparedness information.