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Are We Prepared?

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  • Are We Prepared?

    Are We Prepared?

    Many people are a piece to a large puzzle that answers the question - How prepared are we for a pandemic?

    Unfortunately, as Richard Bezjak who is representing the Chamber of Commerce says with so many uncertainties, all people can do is prepare for the worst.

    Richard says, "The basics have to be done for us to go on to the next step, so addressing the key issues which is preparedness on the part of each individual, we'll go into what each individual company can do incase the bird flu does come."

    In recent meetings, business leaders from local power, gas, and water companies met to discuss a pandemic.

    And while all agreed plans are still in preliminary stages, they gave insight into what they could do in the case of an outbreak.

    Mike Swatts with Appalachian Power says, "We've never been faced with anything like this before. We certainly know how to handle strikes and natural disasters and things like that. And in those cases we can draw in from other areas could effect our employees, it could effect us getting supplies in, it could change the traffic on our network as we handle it today.

    Jerry Matheny with Bluefield Water says, "I understand that mostly the water itself would be safe. It would pretty much be impossible to transmit the disease through the water. They way we treat the water now should take care of anything that could get in it."

    Jack Sudderth with Bluefield Gas says, "We can run this with just a few people, just to make sure people have their hot water and heat and those things.

    A new White House administration report assumes that in a worse case pandemic scenario as many as 2 million people could die, 50 million could become ill and 40-percent of the workforce could be absent from work as long as two week.

    So with those staggering statistics - Bezjak raises these questions.

    Bezjak says, "How are you going to pay your people, are you going to pay your people, I think those are keys. Can you work from home? Will people come in to a place to work? You can't run an assembly line that takes a hundred people when you only have 60 people."

    With more meetings expected in the next couple of weeks, its the hopes that more companies can answer those questions in order to see what is and isn't possible when it comes being prepared for a pandemic.

    In part two of the series, what will medical professionals face in the two Virginias and what can individuals do to be prepared?

  • #2
    Preparing For A Pandemic II

    Preparing For A Pandemic II

    With the staggering thought of 2 million people dying from a flu pandemic and 50 million people becoming sick, hospitals and medical personnel are a large part of the pandemic puzzle.

    Melody Rickman with the Mercer County Health Department says, "As far as the county health department goes right now we are working on setting up health pods so we can go to a place in the county and set up what we call mass immunization clinics. And we will be able to immunize huge numbers of people."

    At a recent pandemic meeting representatives from Princeton, Bluefield and St. Luke's hospitals decided that there wouldn't be a designated hospital for flu stricken people to go to.

    Their reasoning - people feel more safe with their own doctors and nurses.
    But as District Director of the Virginia Department of Health John Dreyzehner says, hospitals have to be flexible with any plans they make.

    Dreyzehner says, "Something we don't know and won't know until the even occurs is what the science is. We don't know how sick people will really get. And it may be that for some regions it makes sense to designate a place where people are sick can go and another hospital that would handle more typical emergencies."

    And while Dreyzehner says he has briefed medical staff at five hospitals in his district on the subject of a flu pandemic, he wants people to know that preparedness begins at home.

    Dreyzehner adds, "Preparedness at root really begins on a personal level. It would be hard for me to do my job if I haven't in advance prepared my home and my family for an eventuality like that."

    And Rickman reiterates those sentiments saying, "There is a written national plan, but what they are telling you is on a local level you have to depend on yourself and have your own resources, especially for an extended period of time as we found out in Katrina, you are on your own for a while."

    According to the Center for Disease Control Website families should:
    -Store a two week supply of water and food
    -Have any nonprescription drugs and health supplies on hand
    -Talk with family members and loved ones about what care they would need if they got sick
    -Get involved with community efforts to prepare for a pandemic

    Dreyzehner says, "This is not something someone else is going to do for you. We all have a stake in this. If this happens, everyone is going to be affected. It is very unlikely to believe that it is not going to come to you and your family if it is a worldwide outbreak of an influenza virus."