It’s been 11 years since the United States experienced one of the worst terrorist attacks on American soil. The attacks on 9/11 and the anthrax attacks in October 2001 tested the government’s capability to respond and protect the homeland. Public health learned the importance of agency coordination and the benefits of emergency risk communication from the October 2001 anthrax attacks. Although 1,500 miles away from Ground Zero, Oregon too learned from 9/11 and is committed to developing community resilience to emergencies.
Community resilience to emergencies is a priority for the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). All disciplines need to come together in an emergency to help communities respond, mitigate harm to the public, and recover and rebuild state and local agencies. Learning from previous emergencies is key to building a “new normal.” Read the personal stories of three OHA staff who experienced and survived a house fire, power outages, and the 2011 Japan earthquake.
Community resilience often starts at home. Make sure you and your loved ones are prepared. Check out our website and resources and commit to do at least one preparedness activity this week. Whether you pull together a few household items for an emergency kit or contact your county emergency manager about hazards in your area, commit today to being prepared.
Another component of community resilience to emergencies is a well-qualified and competent work force. Recently, the Health Security, Preparedness and Response program held 27 Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication Trainings across the state. It is critical that every public health staff member communicate emergency information with the public and the media during an emergency. Effective emergency communication can save lives and mitigate harm.
Medical volunteers are a strong foundation of community resilience to emergencies. Oregon’s Medical Reserve Corp and the Emergency System for Advanced Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP) includes more than 700 medical volunteers who have pledged to serve the public in the event of a public health emergency. OHA Director Bruce Goldberg, M.D., recently recognized Akiko Berman, Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) Coordinator, for her work. Akiko also received the National MRC 2012 Elizabeth Fitch Leadership award. Congratulations, Akiko!
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