Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Northwest Region Responders Winter 2015

Public Health & Healthcare Emergency Preparedness in Minnesota: Creating and Sustaining Public Health and Healthcare Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Systems

Ebola Preparedness and Response in Minnesota

Without a doubt, Ebola has been and remains on the minds of Minnesota Residents. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has been preparing for a case of Ebola since the start of the outbreak.  The efforts include enhancing surveillance and laboratory testing capacity to detect cases, providing recommendations for hospitals and other health care facilities on infection control and other measures to prevent disease spread, and sending out up-to-date information to the public, international travelers, and public health partners. This includes ongoing outreach efforts and public meetings with members of the Twin Cities’ West African communities.

For the latest Ebola information from MDH, go to their website at

Fight the Flu

Yes, we need to be concerned about Ebola, but remember, infections with Ebola virus in the U.S. have been exceedingly uncommon. Infections with influenza, however, are very common in the U.S.   Millions of people are infected, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands die from flu each year. While the exact timing and duration of flu seasons vary, outbreaks often begin in October and can last as late as May. 

CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.  In addition to getting vaccinated, you can take everyday preventive actions like staying away from sick people and washing your hands to reduce the spread of germs.  If you are sick with the flu, stay home from work and school to prevent spreading the flu to others.  MDH resources are at:

Emergency Preparedness for the Upcoming Winter

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While we remain very concerned will the possible illnesses, we also must consider one of the more likely issues in need of our attention and that is our upcoming winter. We can have some very cold and snowy winters.  Staying warm and dry, making simple changes in your activities, and using good judgment can help us remain safe.  Extremely cold temperatures often accompany a winter storm, so we may have to cope with power failures and icy roads. If people must use alternative heat sources or fireplaces to stay warm, they need to be aware of the risk of household fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. We need to have plans if power, food and water are not available for an extended period of time.

We all know the importance of winter survival equipment in our vehicles, but how many of us actually have one? It is also important to take note of the age of our vehicle tires and our battery.  Driving according to weather conditions is always important, but none more important that icy slippery and/or snow covered roads.

 Even walking can provide challenges. Make sure you follow guidelines for warm, layered apparel. Keep your sidewalk snow-free, use ice melting agents as appropriate, and walk with your toes pointed outward & hands out to your sides.

No matter if we are planning on a drive, going about our normal daily routines, or just staying at home, we need to consider emergency plans for winter.  MDH resources are at:

updated 12/2014