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department of public health

Health Department

Preparedness

 

[En Espanol]   
Public Health Preparedness Program

Mission
Public Health Preparedness Program (PHP) enhances the capacity of the Department of Public Health to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters.

Potential local public health threats include:
  • Communicable disease outbreak (hepatitis A, measles, H1N1 influenza, West Nile virus, etc.)
  • Natural disaster (winter storms, extreme heat, floods, high winds)
  • Bioterrorism incident (anthrax, plague, smallpox)
  • Radiological disaster (bombs or power plants accidents)

PHP ensures health and safety of El Paso community through:
  • Developing collaborative partnerships with federal, state and local government officials, hospitals, community-based organizations and volunteers.
  • Developing plans and providing training to stakeholders.
  • Conducting drills and exercises of those plans.
  • Continually updating plans incorporating input from our partners.
  • Performing surveillance and investigation of specific communicable/infectious diseases and other public health threats or emergencies.

PHP Key Components:
Public health response and support
Epidemiological surveillance and investigation
Rapid notification and alert
Mass prophylaxis and vaccination
Drills and exercises
Internal and External Training
Community Education*
*Feel free to request a presentation regarding flu prevention, flood safety, heat safety and winter weather safety through the DPH Speakers Bureau. For more information please access: http://home.elpasotexas.gov/health/speakers-bureau.php.
 
DPH encourages El Paso community to personally prepare for a disaster by making a plan, building a kit, and staying informed. For more information on personal preparedness for emergencies, please access: http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit. Research has shown that those individuals and families who prepare before an emergency recover quicker when disasters do occur.
 

Weekly Emergency Preparedness Tip
Take a moment to imagine that there is an emergency, such as a fire in your home, and you need to leave quickly. What are the best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways out of each room. Now, write them down — you’ve got the beginning of a plan.
 

HAZARD OF THE SEASON

Extreme Heat
Heat-related illnesses can cause serious injury and even death if unattended. In fact, extreme summer heat causes more fatalities in the U.S. per year than any other weather-related factor, including floods, lightning, tornadoes, hurricanes, and winter storms. However, the following preventative measures can help you to avoid heat related injuries.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Replace salt and minerals, since these are necessary for proper bodily functions and are eliminated by heavy sweating.
  • Limit outdoor activities and always use sunblock of at least SPF 15 and apply it every two hours.
  • Take breaks to cool off.
  • Avoid coffee and alcoholic beverages since these dehydrate the body.
  • Don’t leave children or pets inside a car.

Before Extreme Heat
  • Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan.
  • Install window air conditioners snugly; insulate if necessary.
  • Check air-conditioning ducts for proper insulation.
  • Install temporary window reflectors (for use between windows and drapes), such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • Weather-strip doors and sills to keep cool air in.
  • Cover windows that receive morning or afternoon sun with drapes, shades, awnings, or louvers. (Outdoor awnings or louvers can reduce the heat that enters a home by up to 80 percent.)
  • Keep storm windows up all year.
  • Listen to local weather forecasts and stay aware of upcoming temperature changes.
  • Know those in your neighborhood who are elderly, young, sick or overweight. They are more likely to become victims of excessive heat and may need help.
  • Be aware that people living in urban areas may be at greater risk from the effects of a prolonged heat wave than are people living in rural areas.
  • Get trained in first aid to learn how to treat heat-related emergencies.
 
During Extreme Heat
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio for critical updates from the National Weather Service (NWS).
  • Never leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit sun exposure.
  • Stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls, and other community facilities. Circulating air can cool the body by increasing the perspiration rate of evaporation.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Drink plenty of water; even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.
  • Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power during periods of extreme heat.
 
Bad Weather Shelters
  • Armijo Recreation Center
  • Eastiside Senior Center
  • Galatzan Recreation Center
  • Lincoln Center
  • Memorial Park Senior Center
  • Missouri Recreation Center
  • Nations-Tobin Recreation Center
  • Pavo Real Recreation Center
  • Northeast Recreation Center
  • R.Gilmore Recreation Center
For more information of shelters in El Paso please visit:
http://www.homelessshelterdirectory.org/cgi-bin/id/city.cgi?city=El%20Paso&state=TX

 
News Corner
The World Health Organization, in partnership with the Ministries of Health in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria announced a cumulative total of 1711 suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) and 932 deaths, as of August 4, 2014. Of the 1711 clinical cases, 1070 cases have been laboratory confirmed for Ebola virus infection. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals (Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus), and through human-to-human transmission (direct contact with the blood, secretions/fluids and organs of infected people through broken skin or mucous membranes). Currently there is no approved treatment or vaccine for use in people or animals. Although Ebola virus disease represents low risk to our community, DPH encouraged preventive measures such as: avoid areas of known outbreaks, wash your hands, avoid bush meat, avoid contact with infected people, follow infection-control procedures, and don’t handle remains.
 
For more information in Ebola outbreak:
http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html?s_cid=cdc_homepage_feature_001
 
For more information in Ebola prevention
http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ebola-virus/basics/prevention/con-20031241
 
 
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is viral respiratory illness first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. It is caused by a coronavirus called MERS-CoV. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. So far, all the cases have been linked to countries in and near the Arabian Peninsula. This virus has spread from ill people to others through close contact, such as caring for or living with an infected person. However, there is no evidence of sustained spreading in community settings. Although two cases have been confirmed in the USA, CDC acknowledges a very low risk to the general public in the US.
CDC continues to closely monitor the MERS situation globally and work with partners to better understand the risks of this virus, including the source, how it spreads, and how infections might be prevented.
For more information please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/CORONAVIRUS/MERS/INDEX.HTML

 
PHP Events
Mass Fatality Workshop, July 14th
Disaster Behavioral Health: Preparedness and Response, July 31st
Chaos in the Streets, Order in the Courts: An Examination of Legal Authorities Underpinning Public Health Emergency Preparedness, August 14th
 
For more information on PHP Event please email us or contact us through the DPH website.
 

Resources
PHP has a variety of preparedness guides and brochures. If you are interested in these materials please send us and email through the Department’s website.


Health Preparedness Program
5115 El Paso Dr.
El Paso, Texas 79905
Phone: (915) 771-5702
Fax: (915) 771-5802
 
Hours of Operation
Monday – Thursday 
7:00 am – 6:00 pm
 
Non- Emergency Helpful Numbers
Texas Information and Services (915)2-1-1
El Paso Police Department (915)832-4400
El Paso Fire Department (915)832-4432
El Paso County Sheriff (915)546-2280
Animal Control (915)842-1000
24/7 Diseases Reporting (915)771-5810
American Red Cross (915)592-0208
Paso Del Norte Food Bank (915)544-5592
Poison Control Center (800)222-1222


National/State Preparedness Information:  
2-1-1


Dial: 2-1-1 or toll free 1-877-541-7905
http://home.elpasotexas.gov/health/211.php

State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry

Voluntary registry for people who need assistance for evacuation in the case of an emergency.
To register: https://publicregistry.csr.utexas.edu/enroll/


Ready.gov

Description: Ready: Prepare. Plan. Stay Informed.
El Paso Extreme Weather Task Force
Provides free fans to qualified people. In addition, it provides education for the community about the necessary steps to be prepared and protected from the effects of severe weather. EWTF also encourages the “Buddy System” through the community to check on their neighbors and elderly family members.



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