Blanco County is hit by some fast-moving disease...or terrorists release anthrax again, this time in San Antonio, threatening to spread north...or maybe it’s just a bad flu season.
If we have to immunize every resident of the county in a short time, who’s going to do it?
Neither the state nor the county has the manpower for that job, but the Blanco County Disaster Response Group has 15 newly-trained volunteers who could go to work right away.
“Those incidents would quickly overwhelm the public health personnel,” said Jacque Hagerty, training specialist for the Texas Department of State Health Services. “We’d be scrambling for manpower who could go to work right away.”
Hagerty gave the volunteers a crash course in mass immunization or distribution of medication Saturday morning at the Johnson City First United Methodist Church.
She said the federal resources could fly 50 tons of equipment and medicine into the area in 12 hours, enough for 300,000 people, and Blanco County’s share would be separated out and delivered here a few hours later. Once here, a central dispensary — perhaps a couple of them — would be opened to residents.
The central dispensary is called a Point of Dispensing — a POD — structured to suit the exact need.
“How the POD would work, what we would give people, and who would get it all depend on the nature and size of the problem,” Hagerty said, “so our volunteers need to know several processes and be prepared to be flexible in how we respond to the community’s need.”
It would take an extreme situation for local volunteers to be put to work actually giving shots or handing pills, but that’s not impossible.
More likely would be helping neighbors fill out paperwork and routing them through the POD system.
Hagerty said it would take about two dozen volunteers to open a POD for Blanco County, so the 15 trainees aren’t enough to fill the need, even assuming they’d all be available when called. And the demand for manpower could run up to almost 200 for a full-scale push.
“We don’t have that pool of volunteers in Blanco County now,” said Hagerty, “but we have more than we did on Friday, and we certainly can come back and train more.”
The next step in preparing the POD team is for the local volunteers to scout for more resources, both medical professionals and non-professionals, and begin filling in the blanks in the organization so we’ll be ready when we need a quick response to a health emergency here at home.
To join the Blanco County Disaster Response Group or volunteer for the POD team, contact JoAnn Routh at 868-7414.