Participants listen intently to James Rose,
Regional Threat Preparedness Coordinator

Submitted by Barb McKown

The Calhoun County Family Resource Network and the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department joined forces to host a community Pandemic Flu Forum on Friday, March 15, 2007 at the Grantsville Volunteer Fire Department.

Fifteen individuals attended the forum representing local government, law enforcement, emergency services, health care, senior services, community services and the school system.

The forum was moderated by James Rose, Regional Threat Preparedness Coordinator and Tim Wickam, Epidemiologist for the MOVHD.

The purpose of the forum was to explain what constitutes a pandemic flu outbreak and determine if there is a community plan established to handle such an event.

The pandemic flu covers a large geographic area and is a different strain of the flu virus. The strain generally jumps from animal to humans with very little available treatment options. The pandemic flu outbreak can last up to 12-15 months with the worst case scenario of 35% of the population developing the flu.

Mr. Wickam said the majority of the cases will have flu-like symptoms and be okay. The greater impact is the restriction issues.

(L-R) Grantsville Police Chief J.D. Nicholson, Mayor Wilbert Kerby, Roger Bibbee of the Wood County Office of Emergency Management, James Rose and Tim Wickam continue discussion during lunch

The question of what a pandemic flu outbreak could mean for Calhoun County brought about several issues for discussion including: access to health care; access to basic supplies (food, gasoline, etc); travel restrictions; civil disruption; inability to provide basic services (trash service, water system, etc.) and non-residents hunting for services in Calhoun County.

Mr. Rose explained the goal is to combine your resources into the most good for the county. Steps that should be taken before a pandemic flu outbreak include:

Develop and practice a plan
Educate yourself and the public
Identify and involve all resources
Stockpile basic supplies
Work with others

The forum generated spirited discussion with all the above issues being addressed.

It was agreed that following this forum, the appropriate parties would need to reconvene and focus on the specific plan for Calhoun County while beginning the process of educating the general public. Please watch for upcoming articles or events or stop by Minnie Hamilton Health Care Center for free pandemic flu information.