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Director's Update
Mike Harryman

As 2012 came to a close and 2013 started, emergency preparedness and response was a major focal point in the media and with the Obama administration. The Clackamas mall shooting, bus crash on I-84, Super Storm Sandy and Winter Storm Nemo all highlight the need for improving and sustaining community resilience to emergencies.

Public health plays a unique but critical role in emergency planning and response. In 2013, the Health Security, Preparedness and Response (HSPR) team will focus on capability-based planning and strategic planning related to Oregon Public Health Division’s strategic goal of building and sustaining community resilience to emergencies. One component of this goal involves focusing on mental health and ensuring local agencies have the capacity and capability to recover quickly and help those affected by traumatic emergency events.

The Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission (OSSPAC) recently released a draft of the Oregon Resilience Plan. The plan is focused on the next Cascadia earthquake and tsunami and outlines OSSPAC’s seismic resilience goal:

 Oregon citizens will not only be protected from life-threatening physical harm, but because of risk reduction measures and pre-disaster planning, communities will recover more quickly and with less continuing vulnerability following a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and tsunami.”

In addition to developing new policies and standards to help with recovery efforts, the plan suggests that public information messaging should change too. In the past, public health and emergency management agencies have advocated for a 72-hour kit. Based on the Oregon Resilience Plan, public messaging should advocate for individual preparedness kits that last for almost two weeks.

HSPR continues to coordinate with the Oregon Office of Emergency Management, Oregon National Guard's CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) team, and the entire public health system to ensure an effective response and recovery in the event of a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. Please take a few minutes to review the entire plan. It is available on OEM’s website.

Mike Harryman

Next: Fatal bus accident tests community preparedness and inspires additional planning

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