What is Emergency Preparedness?
Local health departments across the nation have always been responsible for prevention the spread of reportable diseases. Since 2002, through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness program and the IL Department of Public Health, Fulton County Health Department (FCHD) is among 94 local health departments in IL to receive funding for emergency preparedness. These funds allow FCHD the capacity and capability to effectively respond to a public health event, including biological emergencies like anthrax, infectious disease outbreaks, and natural disasters.
FCHD Emergency Preparedness & Response program works with many federal, state and local governments and private agencies to provide a quick response to potential public health emergencies. FCHD is responsible for planning and preparing to quickly and safely distribute medicine during a public health emergency to the residents of Fulton County. These medicines, supplied by the government from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), may keep people from getting sick. In order to quickly dispense medications in Fulton County, the health department has planned and prepared to open Points of Dispensing (PODs). A POD is a place that will be used to dispense medicines to a large number of people.
Programs & Services
Pandemic Influenza Response
Community Wide Planning and Coordination
Unlike the seasonal flu, a pandemic flu virus poses a unique threat. Since humans have no previously developed immunity against pandemic flu, this new virus strain puts most people at high risk of infection. The result could be that a large percentage of the world's population becomes infected in a very short period of time.
Local health departments like the FCHD and its Emergency Preparedness Coordinator are responsible for community wide planning for an outbreak of an influenza pandemic. The Fulton County Health Department has developed a pandemic influenza plan for the county and conducts training meetings and exercises with other agencies to build response capabilities. The department also conducts routine disease surveillance activities which can assist in forecasting and monitoring outbreaks of disease. If an outbreak of pandemic influenza should occur, the FCHD will work closely with other Fulton County emergency agencies, regional partners and the State of Illinois to manage and distribute antiviral supplies and vaccines, along with carrying out other public health, medical and emergency services.
Communicating During an Emergency:
In an emergency, information will be provided on Fulton County ESDA facebook page, as well as, local media outlets.
Coordinating the Countywide Response to a Biological Attack
Bioterrorism is a form of terrorism using biologic agents that are harmful to humans. This form of terrorism involves the deliberate release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs (agents) used to cause illness or death in people, animals, or plants. Biological agents can be spread through the air, through water, or in food. Terrorists may prefer to use biological agents because they can be extremely difficult to detect and do not cause illness for several hours to several days.
The Emergency Preparedness Coordinator of the Fulton County Health Department plays the leading role in coordinating the countywide response to a real or potential biological attack. FCHD works with local first responders, hospitals, schools, and government agencies to establish protocols for investigation of and response to any suspicious communicable disease outbreak or potential biological attack. In the event of an actual biological attack, the Health Department will coordinate a countywide response with the above agencies, provide updated information to the general public, and facilitate medical management of exposed persons. Planning ,no matter how competent, is no substitute for enhanced citizen awareness of the dangers of bioterrorism.
Emergency Pharmaceutical Distribution
Utilizing Points of Dispensing Locations in the Event of an Emergency
In the event of a public health emergency, the Health Department is the Fulton County agency responsible for distribution of pharmaceuticals (antibiotic medications) to the entirety of Fulton County and any other areas of responsibility by utilizing Points of Dispensing (POD) centers. Points of Dispensing are locations throughout the County which could be used to distribute medications in the event of a health emergency. The Emergency Preparedness Coordinator will undertake a leading role in that process. The Emergency Preparedness coordinator has also played a key role in developing The Fulton County Pharmaceutical Distribution Plan. This plan serves as the protocol for the request, receipt, staging, public notification, and distribution of pharmaceuticals from both the Illinois Pharmaceutical Stockpile and the Strategic National Stockpile provided via the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention respectively. The FCHD reserves the right to enact only portions of this plan if a full-scale distribution is not required.
Since the full support of Fulton County municipalities and government agencies is paramount in order to effectively carry out the operation of this plan. Relationships which will facilitate a smooth operation in the event the plan is activated. Support has been overwhelming from these agencies.
Volunteers that Assist Agency Personnel during Emergencies
In order to meet the public health needs during critical events, the Will County Health Department, in collaboration with the Will County Emergency Management Agency, has formed a Medical Reserve Corps and we are actively recruiting new members. We welcome all kinds of volunteers with medical and non-medical skills. Healthcare professionals, such as nurses, pharmacists, medical assistants, and physicians are needed as well as people who can serve as registration clerks, health educators, interpreters, etc.
The Medical Reserve Corps supports the mission of the Health Department to prevent disease and promote a healthier environment. It is directed to provide a readied volunteer force that can assist the agency's professionals during times of critical events that threaten the public's well-being.
The Medical Reserve Corps:
- Will allow the Health Department to extend its professional services and resources in response to increased public health concerns.
- Will provide organizational structure and promote appropriate training of volunteers.
- Provides healthcare professionals and others an organized mechanism through which they can volunteer.
- Provides orientation and position training with hands-on experience through drills and exercises.
For more information about joining the Fulton County Health Department Medical Reserve Corps, call the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator , Karol Herink at (309) 647-1134 or click on the link below
Important phone numbers
- To report suspicious packages or substances, call your local law enforcement agency at: 9-1-1
- Individuals looking for help or services because of natural disasters can call 2-1-1
- How can you prepare, plan and stay informed?
- Learn more about being prepared in case of a disaster at Be Red Cross Ready. Visit the Ready Campaign's website to learn more about preparing for emergencies including natural and man-made disasters. There's a section for Families, one for Kids and one for Business.
- How can you get involved by volunteering?
The Medical Reserve Corps provides an opportunity for volunteers with medical skills and a variety of other specialties to provide support during a public health emergency in Fulton County.