| Jun 25, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - June 25, 2009 Central and North Frontenac Emergency planning group starting up, in a hurryBy Jeff Green

Members of the Emergency Planning Committee

As fears that a swine flu pandemic could become a major social issue as soon as this fall, an emergency planning group has sprung up in Central and North Frontenac.

Under the leadership of Gail Hawley-Knowles, the program co-ordinator for the newly minted Family Health Team in Sharbot Lake, and Adrienne Hansen-Taugher, the emergency planning co-ordinator with KFL&A Public Health out of Kingston, a preliminary meeting took place on June 16. The meeting included representatives from the fire service and ambulance service, North Frontenac Community Services, Community Living, Northern Connections, and the Family Health Team itself.

The meeting focussed on how the existing informal mechanisms in the two townships came through during the last major emergency event, the ice storm of 1998, and then moved on to consider how to put more formal structures in place to deal with vulnerable people and others in the case of a flu pandemic or other large-scale disaster.

Looking forward, representatives from the schools, churches, the OPP (who had been invited but could not attend on this occasion) and others will be invited to a meeting in the coming weeks.

According to Gail Hawley-Knowles, the people and agencies involved need to develop their own internal plans, including facing the possibility of high absenteeism, as well as working with a network to ensure public safety can be maintained in the case of many possible emergency situations.

Dave Gemmill, a manager with the Frontenac County Ambulance Service, who was the owner of the Parham Ambulance service back in 1998 when the ice storm hit, said “one of the first things that came to light in that case was that dialysis patients were at risk so we had to find them and get generators to them.”

There are a number of challenges that the committee will be facing as the possible implications of an emergency are considered and it tries to ramp up a network over the summer.

“I see this as positive,” said Adrienne Hansen-Taugher after the meeting.

Hansen-Taugher said she would like to expand this committee to cover South Frontenac as well, but it seems more viable to set up a parallel process in South Frontenac at some point. 

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