The Whatcom County Health Department is involved in community-wide planning around potential emergency threats, such as: natural disasters, pandemic influenza, or bioterrorism. The staff works closely with the hospital and emergency planners to develop strategies for dealing with the possible impacts of such events. Disaster-related public health impacts could include--but are not limited to-- contaminated water or food supplies or airborne exposure to infectious diseases.
The Whatcom County Health Department plays a lead role on the Pandemic Influenza Taskforce. Long-range planning for potential catastrophic events requires expert coordination between health care providers, emergency planners, and many other community partners. The taskforce report can be found at: http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us./health/pdf/pan/panflu_phase2_091906.pdf
As part of the taskforce recommendations, the Health Department is currently hosting the Whatcom County Medical Reserve Corp, which is recruiting volunteer health professionals and affiliated personnel to assist in public health activities related to disaster response. To find out about emergency response volunteer activities, visit http://whatcommrc.org.
The Communicable Disease staff also work with other agencies to promote emergency preparedness activities for individuals and families. The Washington State Department of Health provides helpful handouts and video streaming messages to encourage citizens to take measures to protect their health. You can get additional information by visiting the Washington Department of Health's emergency preparedness page at www.doh.wa.gov/phepr/default.htm.