I first started to follow H5N1 about Feb/March, of 2006. I can't even begin to remember how I first found out about Pandemic H5N1. But once I started, I couldn't stop. What I was reading was so extreme, so unbelievable. But I kept coming across publications from such reputable people, Like US Health & Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt & CIDRAP Director Michael Osterholm, Dr. Robert Webster (St. Judes Hsptl. for Children) and Dr. Grattan Woodson.
I found discussion forums on the subject and found even more information. I found other people who had been following this virus much longer than I. Those discussion forums are where I found information on the history of the virus, its progression and it's potential. I also found out ways to prepare for its coming.
During the Summer of 2006, I learned that Michael Leavitt was personally going to each and every state to discuss this virus and advise each state what they should be doing to prepare it's citizens for the potential of it becoming a GLOBAL pandemic. The fact that this type of state by state visit was happening to discuss Pandemic Awareness & Preparation was a significant ‘red flag’ to me. After Secretary Leavitt's initial state meeting each state broke down into regions and held area Regional Pandemic Summit meeting. I attended the PA Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Planning Summit held June, 2006, sponsored by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
In the meantime, the 2009 H1N1 ‘Swine Flu’ pandemic erupted and although it created increased illness, it was not the same type of significant pandemic event anticipated with a potential H5N1 ‘Bird Flu’ pandemic.
Since the Summer of 2006, I have found myself a full-time Pandemic Flu Community activist whose goal is to make local communities aware of the threat of a potential pandemic and how families can prepare. Since the onset of the 2009 ‘Swine Flu’ pandemic, the recent overseas events and our own increase in national terror concerns, I have increased my scope to educate families for ‘All Hazards’ preparedness. My activities have included:
*Attended the PA Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Planning Summit, Valley Forge, June 2006
* Participated in a County-wide Flu Drill, in Bucks County, PA
, where over 3,000 seasonal flu vaccines were administered in 7 hours via a 'drive-through' system -November 2006
* Attended an Avian Flu Workshop
which was sponsored through the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Penn State/Harrisburg
and the South Central Assembly for Effective Governance. - November, 2006
* Member of the Pandemic Preparation Committee for Cumberland County
, led by our County Office of Emergency Preparedness.
* Participate in a live CDC (Center for Disease Control) web cast
' Pandemic Influenza Planning: Local Government Assistance' - January 2007
* Completed Department of Homeland Security FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Association) Course
: Incident Command System (ICS 100) on line, receiving Certificate of Achievement and enrolled in line classes with the University of Albany, NY., School of Public Health, participating in classes for ‘Pandemic Preparedness & Community Response’
* I have developed a comprehensive on-line website ‘Emergency Home Preparation’
- which is a ‘card-catalog’ of all the information I have found in my two-year quest for home preparation.
* Participated in various news interviews
both for TV, local newspapers and interested magazines.
* I have also collaborated with Dr. Wallace Greene
, Scientific Director, Clinical Virology Laboratory, PennState/Hershey Medical Center (https://profiles.psu.edu/profiles/display/112233
). Together we offer public presentations
on what Avian H5N1 is, what a pandemic is and how to prepare a household for that threat. These ‘Community Awareness & Preparation’ –“CAP” events have included participation in:
• Cumberland County 911 Emergency Services Day
• Dickinson College ‘National Night Out’
• York & Adams County: Pandemic Influenza Update Summit (7/2007)
• Bonnie Brook Riding Club
• 2007, 2008 & 2009 York Hospital presentation to hospital employees
• Dickinson College Employees
• AFL/CIO of York County
• Allen Township Emergency Services Day (5/2008)
• 2008 & 2009 Wyeth Pharmaceuticals Business Continuity Health Fair
• 2009 United Methodist Church Annual Conference
• 2009 United Church of Christ Annual Conference.
• Consulting with Dillsburg, PA Emergency Management Agency- ‘Live Ready’ campaign
• Cumberland Valley School District Community Education Presentations for H1N1 Swine Flu
* Co-created an all-inclusive home preparation website ‘Get Pandemic Ready’
. This site was created by members of a grassroots, volunteer organization called the National Citizens Pandemic Alliance (NCPA). The NCPA is a group of concerned citizens committed to personal preparation and community resiliency as the foundation for getting though a pandemic. The first week we launched this site, it was highlighted on the CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) homepage.
* Collaboration with Dr. Susan Chu, MD (retired, England) in organizing an inter-national grassroots parent organization ‘ReadyMoms Alliance’
which is a legal, non-profit organization ‘concerned about the potential of the next pandemic on children, families and communities’. I am now in a voluntary position with this organization focusing on Community Outreach. We have attended:
• American Public Health Association (APHA) conference, Washington DC (Nov. 2007),
• 2nd National Emergency Management Summit , Washington DC (Feb 2-5, 2008)
• 2008 Public Health Preparedness Summit , Atlanta GA (Feb 12-22, 2008).
• 2009 Public Health Preparedness Summit , SanDiego, CA (Feb 18-20,2009)
• 2008 National PTA Convention, in San Diego CA (June 20-23)
• 2008 Seasonal & Pandemic Influenza meeting, offered by the Infectious Diseases Society of America – “IDSA”, Arlington VA, (May 18-20, 2008) – offered poster presentation here.
• 2009 Seasonal & Pandemic Influenza meeting, offered by the Infectious Diseases Society of America – “IDSA”, Washington DC, (Feb.2-4,2009)
• 2008 Partners in Partners in Pandemic Preparedness’, with Roche Pharmaceuticals, various US locations, Summer 2008. (For example, see this link for our Philadelphia event on May 22: https://www.seeuthere.com/rsvp/invitati ... 1819217856 ,)
At these conferences, we showcase the Home Preparation display that I have been taking around the Central PA area, to encourage other communities, health and government officials to utilize this display as a successful model for community awareness & preparation. We are finding this to be met with great enthusiasm and the display has already been offered in other states.
Since the outbreak of the 2009 H1N1 (Swine Flu) pandemic, it was very apparent that unless there is an emergency event that creates wide-scale illness or death, people are not really very interested to learn what to do for pandemic preparedness. Even in the midst of increased illness, there was very little response at local community levels to position even the basic medical supplies within households to treat the flu. So, I have broadened my preparedness message from mainly pandemic preparedness to ‘all hazard’
There are so many events unfolding in our current events and more people are realizing the necessity to consider the need to put some type of preparedness contingency plan in place. Variations include basic food & water considerations (due to increased financial insecurity & large weather events) to more involved home preparations (in concern of long-term power outages, terror attacks or large-scale weather events). For whatever reason, there seems to be an increased interest in emergency home preparation and I'd like to help educate families & households for those concerns.(revised: 07.2013)