Emergency Preparedness

Emergency Preparedness: Expecting the Unexpected

Webster County Public Health, along with other Webster County agencies, has been strengthening its readiness to respond to public health emergencies. These types of emergencies could result from naturally occurring events, such as floods, tornadoes or infectious diseases, or they could result from man-made disasters, such as the intentional release of biological agents.

Your public health department is involved in the following activities throughout the year to assist in making you and your family members’ lives healthier:

  • Investigating cases of infectious diseases;
  • Preventing and controlling infectious diseases; and
  • Providing environmental health inspections or assessment services.
How is the county prepared to respond to health emergencies?

Webster County Health Department (WCHD) has been working together with other agencies to develop a strong system for responding to a wide range of potential health disasters, including bioterrorism. Our past responses to events such as floods, tornadoes and disease outbreaks are examples of the department’s readiness to respond effectively to public health threats. Just as they have done during previous events, WCHD staff will investigate cases of infectious disease, implement prevention and control measures, hold public clinics to provide medicines or vaccinations, and conduct environmental inspections.

During a public health emergency, the following are examples of actions WCHD staff will take:

  • Be alerted that an unusually high number of individuals have developed a disease that may pose a threat to others.
  • Work closely with the Hygienic Laboratory to test for a wide range of infectious diseases.
  • Notify the public and various groups of steps they can take to prevent and control illness and disease.
  • Provide preventive medicines or vaccinations to Webster County residents when the situation warrants.
  • Work with healthcare and other stake holder agencies to meet the needs of all Webster County residents.
  • Provide environmental health inspections or assessment services.
How will Webster County residents know that a health threat has been identified?

Once enough information is known, and after consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health, Webster County Health Department will alert health care providers, hospitals, clinics and others in the community. The alert will explain the nature of the public health threat and how a response will be coordinated. Depending on the nature of the event, the response could include any one of the following:

  • Guidelines for health care providers for the treatment of patients who have specific symptoms.
  • Ways to prevent spreading the disease.
  • Public announcements to describe actions individuals can take to minimize contracting disease or avoid spreading infections to others.
  • The public would be informed regarding the best steps to take to protect their health through press releases to news media and the Webster County Health Department website.
  • Mobilization of volunteers to establish vaccination or medication clinics for large groups of people, if necessary.

What can YOU do?

Prepare yourself and your family.  County residents can take steps to prepare. Having a plan in place helps to ensure that you and your family will know how to find each other, hear important instructions from state and county officials, and respond in a way that keeps you and others in the area safe. Emergency management officials use an “all-hazards” approach to emergency preparedness, which means that one plan can be used for several kinds of emergencies, including storms, blackouts, and terrorism.

By being prepared, you can reduce your family’s anxieties, fears and losses. These three key steps will assist you in being prepared to react to emergency situations:

Get A Kit

Assemble an emergency supply kit in an easy-to-carry container (such as a duffle bag, backpack, or trash container). This way you will be prepared, whether you need to evacuate to a different location or stay where

Make A Plan

Create a household emergency plan.

  • Include the Personal Emergency Contact Information in your plan.
  • If you have pets, make sure to include their needs in your emergency plan. If you are evacuating to a public shelter you may not be able to take them with you, so you should have alternate plans in place.
  • Practice your plan to make sure all family members, including children, remember what they should do in case of emergencies.
  • Make copies of an Emergency Contact Card for all family members to carry at all times.
  • Know what emergency plans are in place for your workplace and school.

Be Informed

Learn about the potential emergencies most likely to affect Iowa and Webster County specifically (winter storms, tornados, floods, etc.).  Know what actions you should take in these emergencies and learn about county emergency plans that are in place.

Center for Disease Control and Provention

Iowa Department of Public Health