Friday, July 31, 2009
The Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings 2009 (HAPLR) ranked the Johnson County Library number seven in the County in their population category. This is quite the honor for the Library and the County as a whole. This ranking is based on a combination of factors including per capita expenditures, staff, circulation, collection, and number of visits.
However, these categories only address some of the role Libraries play in this community. For instance, during extreme heat the libraries are open to the public as cooling centers. Likewise, during ice storms and severe winter events, the library facilities are opened as warming centers. This type of public sheltering is absolutely vital to our emergency preparedness activities as a county.
Monday, July 27, 2009
As the H1N1 flu epidemic enters its fourth month in Kansas, the lurid headlines and cable news frenzy that marked the early stages of the outbreak are over. Gone are the scenes of subway riders wearing face masks, of school doors closed because of the flu, of bewildered travelers unsure if they should take a vacation in Mexico or New York.
As the springtime alarm about the so-called “swine flu” has given way to summertime complacency, it may seem that the threat is gone, that we Americans have dodged the pandemic bullet.
But in fact the virus has never left us.
Here and around the world the H1N1 pandemic is gaining momentum, and sooner or later it will likely figure big in your life and the life of every Kansan. Collectively we need to start thinking about it again, and get ourselves prepared.
For a completely new organism, the novel H1N1 flu virus has a remarkable capacity to transmit itself among human hosts. In only 100 days it has spread from two countries in one continent to 160 countries in every continent of the world.
Most disease has been mild, or without any noteworthy symptoms. But for a significant minority of hosts the disease has been severe. Already the pandemic strain has claimed about 800 lives worldwide, three times the number lost to the “bird flu” virus since 2003.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that in the next two years 20 to 40 percent of the US population will be stricken, with many of the cases compressed into “waves” of infection lasting eight to 12 weeks. The number of pandemic-related deaths will range from 90,000 to “several hundred thousand,” according to the CDC.
In Kansas, as many as 10,000 cases have already occurred, with confirmed disease now reported in 35 counties throughout the state. Ordinarily flu is not seen during summer months, but more counties have been newly confirmed with H1N1 disease during July than in any previous month.
The pattern of cases here, as in other states, points to a distinctly higher risk for the young. The average age for confirmed cases in Kansas is just 17 years, with about 80 percent of cases occurring before the age of 35 years. Although the elderly would comprise a majority of severe cases in a normal flu season, cases of H1N1 flu are relatively rare in people over 65 years of age.
For public health agencies like mine, and those health departments serving every county in Kansas, our objectives in the coming months are simple: to reduce illness and death from the pandemic, while minimizing social disruption.
Together we will carefully monitor the spread of the disease, advise health care providers on treatment and prevention, educate the public on “social distancing” and other techniques to slow down transmission, and, if necessary, release publicly held stockpiles of antiviral drugs that can speed recovery in cases of severe disease and reduce the risk of fatal complications.
At the same time this fall, we will work with local public health departments to administer the largest single vaccination campaign our state has ever seen, if federal health authorities decide to make an H1N1 vaccine – currently under development – available for use in the whole population.
Clinical trials are just beginning now on human volunteers to determine if initial lots of the new vaccine can generate a sufficient immune response to protect against infection. The trials will also determine if the new vaccine is safe.
If the vaccine is deemed safe and effective, and if its use is authorized in the general population, vaccine manufacturers will ramp up production and begin deliveries to Kansas and other states as early as mid-October. As you read this, your local health department is working with health care providers, schools, community groups and others to prepare for mass immunization clinics to get the vaccine to as many people as possible.
Priority groups for the initial shipments of the H1N1 vaccine will be determined soon by a federal committee, so that those most at risk of severe disease and death, and members of the nation’s “critical workforce,” are first in line for protection. Fortunately, supplies of the new vaccine are expected to be sufficient to begin immunizing persons in lower priority groups within the first several weeks of the campaign.
As public health departments prepare for mass vaccinations, hospitals and other health care providers are now making sure they are ready for a surge in demand for their services in the months ahead. Likewise, businesses around the state are preparing for continuity of operations in the event of high levels of absenteeism.
Schools, which will soon open their doors for a new academic year, are preparing their teachers and parents for heightened vigilance, strict exclusion of ill students, and possible school-wide dismissals in the event of an outbreak. Schools may also become venues for immunization clinics.
The media spotlight may be off of H1N1 flu at the moment, but throughout Kansas you can see that work is underway to make sure the state is ready for an escalation of viral activity at any time.
That’s because the threat is credible. It has to be taken seriously.
If you have gotten out of the habit of careful hand washing, covering your coughs and staying in when you’re ill, it’s time to take such reasonable precautions again.
It’s also time to stay informed about pandemic flu. For up-to-date information on H1N1 flu activity in Kansas, go to www.kdheks.gov.
In a pandemic, neither alarm nor complacency is very helpful. But by understanding the risks, by taking reasonable steps to prevent transmission, and by working together on solutions we will get through this and we will keep each other safe.
For more information visit Johnson County Public Health.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Lightning can happen any time in Johnson County, but is most prevelant during the warmer summer months.
The article can be read here.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
He is one of only 40 nationwide to receive the prestigious designation, which is offered by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. It is a voluntary effort designed to recognize individuals who have demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievement throughout their career.
Terry joined Med-Act in 2003 and has been a nationally registered paramedic since 1987, working with Kansas City area EMS systems. He worked in a variety of management roles with the MAST system in Kansas City before coming to Med-Act.
CMO candidates are evaluated in seven measured components: Experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, association membership, community involvement, and technical competencies. The application process validates an individual’s prior experience, and it also requires submission of a future professional development plan.
CMO candidate portfolios are evaluated by a team of peer reviewers appointed by the Commission on Professional Credentialing. The commission is the conferring body for the designation, which is valid for three years.
Johnson County is proud to have such quality represented in our emergency services programs.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
The Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will provide a continental breakfast for the course participants. This course is sponsored by the Kansas Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Community Emergency Preparedness Information Network (CEPIN).
Monday, July 13, 2009
JCCC said in a release Friday that it plans to use the money to develop campuswide emergency plans, develop written plans for dealing with infectious disease and for preventing violence by assessing students’ mental health needs, train staff and faculty and coordinate with local and state officials.
As a major employer and educator in Johnson County, Johnson County Emergency Management & Homeland Security maintains a positive relationship with JCCC to continue to prepare all sectors of this community.
This information was originally available in the Kansas City Business Journal.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The County has and will continue to make every effort professionally to be prepared for all emergencies and disasters that might impact our community. But, as always, we also need local citizens to be personally prepared for emergencies and disasters through having a 72-hour emergency kit, a family emergency plan, and staying informed (like reading this blog!).
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
We strive to continue to try to be the best prepared County we can be as long as we can continue to be in partnership with our citizens to make Johnson County -- A Community Prepared.