St. Francois County is a little better prepared for the next county-wide emergency. A trailer stocked with supplies to help people with special needs is almost ready to be put into use.
The trailer will be stocked with cots, blankets, medical supplies, ready-to-eat meals and a tent with heating and cooling that can be used as a small field hospital in the event of a disaster.
“From winter storms, one of the biggest problems we had was people who were not sick enough for hospital care, but who could not be housed in a regular shelter,” said Brenda Wyatt, Regional Emergency Planner. “This trailer will be here at the Health Center and will move to the Mineral Area Elks in Desloge which is our shelter in the county for special needs.”
Wyatt said persons with special needs would include those on oxygen and people who use a wheelchair, but can move around a little on their own as well. Severe diabetics would be considered special needs as would those individuals who perhaps still live at home, but must have a guardian. She said emergency response personnel are working with nursing homes to help them remain independent in a disaster by purchasing things like a generator.
She said the special needs shelter would be set up as the County’s Emergency Management Director would see the need. Residents would be notified of the shelter’s availability and they could also call 2-1-1 which provides information on such services.
The trailer was purchased through a Pandemic Flu Grant through the Center For Emergency Response and Terrorism at a cost of $11,565. There is another trailer in Washington County.
The trailer would be staffed by St. Francois County Health Center personnel and the shelter would also be staffed by CERT volunteers. CERT stands for Community Emergency Response Team.
“We have 85-90 people trained as CERT volunteers in St. Francois County and we will start a new training on Jan. 13,” said Wyatt. The training will be on Tuesdays from 6-8:30 p.m. for six weeks at Cantwell Baptist Church. To register online, go to www.sfchc.org or call 573-431-1947. The training is free and volunteers learn how to help their community in case of a disaster.
CERT educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may affect their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.
A larger field shelter will be added to the county’s emergency response supplies with funding through the Homeland Security Oversight Committee. That shelter will be in St. Francois County, but would be offered to residents in Ste. Genevieve, Washington, Perry, Lincoln, Pike and Warren Counties in case of an emergency.
St. Francois County already has a mass casualty trailer based at the offices of the Ambulance District. Four Mass Casualty Shelter Trailers in Washington, Ste. Genevieve, Perry and Lincoln Counties would also be available to St. Francois County residents. There is a Mobile Communications Bus based at the Farmington Fire Department. The Health Center has a solar-powered hand-held radio system that includes a portable tower.
“We have so much in this community,” said Wyatt. “We are very fortunate. And we certainly could call on other communities to provide additional support as it was needed.”
She said the health center is always getting more to outfit the county to respond in the event of an emergency and take care of all its citizens.