Wednesday, May 17, 2006

LDS Church helps with Davis crisis plan

Quick response: Buildings to be used as health-crisis centers in case of a public emergency
By Lori Buttars
The Salt Lake Tribune

FARMINGTON - If, say, an anthrax attack struck Davis County, how long would it take to inoculate all 280,000 residents if the vaccine were on hand?
Six hours.

Yes, about the length of a school day, officials estimate, thanks to an army of trained volunteers and an agreement signed Tuesday allowing Davis County to use LDS Church facilities as crisis health-care centers.

"We need to be ready to take action," said Ron Garrison, head of the Davis County Board of Health. "Our goal is to allow each community to take care of all of their community members as quickly and as compassionately as possible."

Richard Ebert, director of temporal affairs for northern Utah for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lauded the accord as the first of its kind in the state and one that could be used as a model for other communities.

"We are not trying to take over the Health Department's job in emergency response," he said. "But we believe we are in a position to be a resource in the community to help them do what is necessary."
That is especially true, officials say, given the 55 LDS stake centers scattered throughout Davis County.

Previous emergency plans called for one school building in each of the county¹s northern, middle and southern quadrants to serve as vaccination centers. Tuesday's deal expands that response in case of an earthquake, influenza pandemic or other public health disaster.
"It's important that we keep things flexible," said County Health Department Director Lewis Garrett. "We don¹t know what we'll be facing. It could be we are inoculating people or dispensing an oral antibiotic."

Garrett also plans to extend the ramped-up response program to other churches, community centers and dozens of schools throughout the county.

In addition, Davis County is in the process of beefing up its volunteer medical corps by identifying and training current and retired health-care workers who could help in an emergency.

These professionals would augment the Health Department's 160-member staff. In fact, the county hopes to have 200 medical personnel available for every emergency center.

This article is important for Davis County and all of Utah.

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