Preparing For "What If?"

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Last year's storms are a memory, as are those which happened years ago.

But it's preparing for the ones that haven't happened yet which present the challenge. not just for emergency services agencies, but also for public health providers.

Last summer's June 29th storms presented an issue for the elderly who are on oxygen, when power was out not just for a few hours, but for several days.

"When the hospitals get overflowed, and that happened during the derecho, with people needing hydration and people on oxygen," says Angela Lowery, Washington County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator. "So, setting up separate centers outside the hospital to provide for those citizens. And getting vaccines and medicines to those people, when a public health emergency arises."

That's one function for the new Washington County emergency operations center, now under construction at the children's services center complex. While it will be used for training when there isn't a storm, it's primary use will be for the unexpected.

"Once the new one is finished, we'll be able to turn on a light switch and get to work," says Jeff Lauer, Washington County Emergency Management Director. "It will reduce our time, and help us coordinate so people will have kind of a familiarity with it."

If there's one thing that's come out of the storms of the past decade and a half, it's that the response to them is a constant learning process.

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