Thursday, April 30, 2009


The following press release was issued by DHS: 

Oregon’s first probable case of swine flu was identified late Wednesday following testing by the Oregon State Public Health Laboratory. The Oregon Public Health Department will hold a news briefing at the Portland State Office Building at 11:30 this morning.

The probable case was in a Multnomah County adult female who consulted her physician after experiencing flu-like symptoms,” according to Dr. Mel Kohn, head of the Oregon Public Health Department. The woman, who was not hospitalized and is recovering normally, had contact with someone who had recently traveled to Mexico and been exposed to the swine flu there, he said.

The specimen from this case was sent to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for further characterization, with final results of testing expected in several days.

“It is very likely that this test will be confirmed by the final step of laboratory testing,” Kohn said. “So we are not waiting – we are treating this as a case of swine flu.”

This case is identified as probable, rather than confirmed, because the final step of testing has not yet been performed. However, she did test positive with non-typeable Influenza A. Results from the tests done so far by the CDC indicate that more than 95 percent of cases with this test result will ultimately test positive for the swine flu once the final step of testing is finished.

Portland metro area health departments are investigating the situation to identify who may have been exposed to this case, and to slow further transmission.

“Our first priorities are to provide information to people to help them protect themselves and to slow the spread of this new strain of flu virus,” said Dr. Gary Oxman, health officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.

State and local health departments continue to operate at high alert. The state public health lab continues to receive new cultures from health care providers. So far the other cases have tested negative for flu, but Dr. Kohn said it is likely that there will be additional cases in the future.

“We have expected to see a case in Oregon and the public health system is responding well,” Dr. Kohn said. “Oregon’s state and local public health officials are working together and with federal officials to slow spread of the disease and to continue to protect the public.

“I know Oregonians are concerned and want to know what they can do to protect themselves and their families,” said Dr. Kohn. “This doesn’t change our advice – wash your hands, cover your cough and if you are sick stay home.”

He said these are actions people can take to prevent the spread of the flu:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners also are effective.
· Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your sleeve, not with your hand;
· Stay home if you are sick;
· Try to avoid contact with people who are ill; and
· Practice other good health habits such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, getting sufficient rest and not smoking.

The Oregon Public Health website is updated regularly to provide information such as how to identify swine flu, prevent its spread as well as materials that employers, medical providers, schools, parents and others may use.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease in pigs whose spread to human has been historically rare in the U.S. Its symptoms are similar to those in normal seasonal influenza such as fever, lethargy, lack of appetite and coughing, sometimes accompanied by runny nose, sore threat, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Eating pork that has been properly handled and cooked will not transmit the virus.


This week there wasn't an a column in the Statesman Journal. Since I have been doing them for a while in the paper and we've only just started this blog, on weeks that we have missed I will go back and repost old columns. This week we will go back to April 15th, a week that was missed on the blog because of all the exercises going on!

Federal money offers states help after disasters
Since '95, Oregon has received $108 million.

Oregon has survived 12 disasters in the past 14 years, all receiving federal declarations for the Public Assistance Grant Program. 

Many people remember the massive floods of February 1996. Only nine Oregon counties escaped damage that year.  In December 2007, floods and high winds affected the northwest corner of the state, and snow and flooding in 2008.

All 12 Oregon disasters since 1995 resulted in a federal declaration of what is called public assistance, which means money to cities, counties, the state and nonprofit agencies that perform essential functions. Public assistance is financed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and managed by Oregon Emergency Management.

FEMA public assistance dollars can be used to reimburse a portion of eligible costs to clear debris, respond to disaster emergencies, and repair or rebuild basic structures - the things that allow communities to function.

Oregon's disasters are usually the result of severe storms: flooding, landslides, and mudslides. Roads or bridges wash out; schools and government buildings are damaged or destroyed; electrical and telephone lines come down; water or wastewater treatment facilities are compromised; recreation facilities, parks and beaches all suffer damage.

Since 1995, Oregon has received nearly $108 million in FEMA public assistance funds. Payments for the 1996 floods alone came to nearly $51 million.

FEMA and the state also look for ways to keep disasters from recurring. This is called mitigation. FEMA provides mitigation grants which are administered by Oregon Emergency Management. From December 1995 to the present, FEMA has provided $16.2 million in mitigation grant funds.

Disasters can be devastation: they can also restore. Rebuilding brings jobs, new and improved infrastructure, a fresh outlook and community pride. FEMA is currently in the state providing assistance for our December snow storm.

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public-affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294. 

Monday, April 27, 2009


HHS Declares Public Health Emergency for Swine Flu

The Department of Health and Human Services today issued a nationwide public health emergency declaration in response to recent human infections with a newly discovered swine influenza A (swine flu) virus.

The formal declaration of a Public Health Emergency (PHE) is a tool that facilitates HHS’ preparation and mobilization for disasters and emergencies. For example, PHEs were recently declared for flooding in North Dakota, the Inauguration, and several 2008 hurricanes.

Today’s declaration, made under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, will help HHS prepare for prevention and mitigation activities by enabling Food and Drug Administration (FDA) emergency use authorizations of drugs, devices, or medical tests under certain circumstances.

Specifically, today’s PHE will enable the FDA to review and issue emergency use authorizations (EUAs) for the use of certain laboratory tests to help detect the newly discovered strain of influenza and for the emergency use of certain antivirals.

“HHS is taking these steps today to be proactive in responding to this new influenza virus by offering national tools in support of community-led preparedness and response efforts,” Acting HHS Secretary Charles Johnson said. “The declaration allows us the flexibility, while we learn more about the virus and its impact in the United States, to take additional steps to fully mobilize our prevention, treatment and mitigation capabilities should those actions become necessary.”

In addition to the declaration, HHS leaders are working together across operating divisions to coordinate response to the swine flu outbreak. For example, the FDA, the National Institutes of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to develop a vaccine precursor that could be used to develop a vaccine for this swine flu virus.

To date, there have been 20 confirmed cases of swine Influenza A (swH1N1) in California, Texas, Kansas, New York, and Ohio. No deaths in the U.S. have been reported due to the illness. Additional cases of the virus have been confirmed in Mexico and Canada.

Swine flu is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza that regularly causes outbreaks of influenza among pigs. Swine flu viruses do not normally infect humans; however, human infections with swine flu do occur, and cases of human-to-human spread of swine flu viruses have been documented.

The public health emergency declaration is available at For information on swine flu, visit

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


In terms of disasters, Oregon has only one to fear: the powerful cascadia subduction zone earthquakes that have the potential to create tsunamis and wide-spread devastation.  Up until recently it was thought that these earthquakes only occured once every 500 years. But this month coastal geologist Rob Witter spoke during earthquake and tsunami awareness meetings and told the public that new evidence tells geologists that the earthquakes are more likely to be occuring every 300 to 350 years with a 10-14% chance of another earthquake occuring within the next 50 years. This turns out to be about two times more likely than previously thought. The details can be found at OregonLive in the article  "Big earthquake coming sooner than we thought, Oregon geologist says".

But James Roddey and Rob Witter said something that is even more important: we need to be prepared.
"We've almost doubled the probability of these events happening," Roddey says. "It just gives a whole lot more urgency to educate the folks at the coast that, 'Hey, you got to get ready.'"
"The geology and numerical models predict tsunamis could reach as high as 80 to 100 feet in Oregon,  which is similar to the tsunami that struck Sumatra," Witter says. "We need to be very cautious and prepare for that event. It may not happen in a person's lifetime, but if it does, it's going to be equivalent to a Katrina-like event."
Being ready can save your life in such an event. Hurricanes and snow storms move slowly enough to allow warning. But earthquakes are sudden and an earthquake driven tsunami could hit the coast within 20 minutes of the earthquake occuring. It might not happen - but if your not prepared when it does happen then you are likely to be hurt...or worse.
That doesn't mean we need to live in fear, though.
"Once you get prepared and you know where high ground is, once you've talked to your family about an emergency plan and talked about all those kinds of things, you've done your homework. You don't have to think about it again." 
Be prepared...have a kit. Find the closest high ground. And talk to your family about an emergency plan. It takes only a few minutes of your time for each step. These are the basic steps to disaster preparedness and they can save your life. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

72 - I DO, DO YOU?

Recommended Items to Include in a Basic 72 hour emergency Kit:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.

Flashlight and extra batteries.

First aid kit.

Whistle to signal for help.

Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.

Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).

Local maps.

Dont' forget your pets!

Additional items to consider:

Prescription medication and glasses.

Infant formula and diapers.

Pet food and extra water for your pet.

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.

Cash or traverler's checks and change.

Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from

Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.

Complete change of clothing.

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper -
when diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. You can also use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.

Fire Exinguisher

Mateches in a waterproof container.

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.

Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels.

Paper and pencil.

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


April 8, 2009
Discuss quake response with family
People will be less likely to panic if they are prepared

Previously, I asked you to think about a simple disaster scenario. It was this: Mom and dad are at work, and the kids are at school. There is a big earthquake. There is no phone service or power. Roads are closed because of power lines. What do you do?

Hopefully, you took the time to think this through and discuss it with your families. A large earthquake is possible off the coast of Oregon and could happen in the next 50 years.

So did you decide which of you would try to pick up the children? Remember that you will not be able to call each other or them. Did you decide on a location where you could all meet? Do the children have an alternate location if they can't get home?

Would your children have food and water and be safe until you were able to get home? If you think through these decisions ahead of time, you and your children are less likely to panic and do the wrong thing.

The next scenario is: You and your family are at the beach. Your children are playing at the edge of the water. You are lying in the sun. Blankets, towels and shoes are all around you. The earth begins to roll and shift and continues for about 10 minutes. Your children are scared, and the water has receded drastically.

Some people are running out to the water to gather shells in the low tide; others are taking pictures. Some are slowly folding up their blankets and towels. What should you do?
See real-life video of a tsunami at

Jennifer Bailey, formerly of FEMA, is the public-affairs coordinator of Oregon Emergency Management. She may be reached at (503) 378-2911, Ext. 22294. Additional Facts
Learn more: Send questions about emergency preparedness to be answered in this column to Other information may be found at or

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Hello - I am Jennifer Bailey, the Public Affairs Coordinator for Oregon Emergency Management (OEM).

On this blog, I will try to provide you with information on how to be prepared for emergencies. During an actual disaster, I or members of my team, will post news, disaster updates, information on where to get assistance, and other valuable messages.

As long as we have electricity, we will put information on the blog. On a weekly basis, I will also post the OEM column from the Statesman Journal.

For now - let me just encourage you to have a 72 hour emergency kit and a plan for your family. Please write comments and ask questions. I will do my best to assist you.