For Immediate Release: September 9, 2008
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health: 802-863-7281
Vermont Emergency Management: 800-347-0488
BURLINGTON – Vermonters pride themselves on being prepared for emergencies like extreme weather — and tightly stacked cords of wood, ice scrapers, warm gloves and a snow shovel are considered standard tools for survival in the Green Mountain State.
During September, the fifth annual National Preparedness Month, Vermonters are being asked to strengthen their personal preparedness to get ready for an extreme health emergency such as pandemic flu.
National Preparedness Month is a nationwide effort to encourage Americans to take simple steps to prepare for emergencies — at work, at home, at school, in our communities. Throughout September, Vermont Emergency Management and the Vermont Department of Health will work with a wide variety of organizations, including leaders in local, state and federal government agencies and the private sector, to highlight the importance of family emergency preparedness and individual involvement.
Vermont Emergency Management offers a Family Emergency Preparedness Workbook with a disaster preparedness checklist for short-term emergencies, including items such as: at least three days of fresh water, non-perishable food, medications, flashlights and a battery-powered radio so you can stay informed.
The Health Department has a “stock up to stay home” checklist for a family of four to stay supplied for up to two weeks during an extended emergency such as pandemic flu — as well as pandemic flu planning checklists and guidance for individuals, families and groups.
“History and science tell us that it is not a question of if another pandemic will happen, but when it will happen,” said Health Commissioner Wendy Davis, MD. “The 1918 pandemic hit Vermonters hard — but we are the first generation to have the opportunity to greatly reduce the devastating effects of such an illness. We are asking all Vermonters to get ready — stay informed, make a plan, stock up to stay home, and take actions to keep illness from spreading. And we are asking trusted community leaders to help spread the word to get ready.”
A pandemic is a global disease outbreak that occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which people have little or no immunity, and for which there is no vaccine. The disease spreads easily from person-to-person, causes serious illness, and can sweep across the country and around the world in a very short time.
Older Vermonters remember the severity of the 1918 pandemic, with 28,842 cases of influenza reported in Vermont during October of that year.
Operation Special Delivery typified Vermont’s response to a disaster outside of the state. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a convoy of 65 trucks loaded with four million pounds of donated clothing and supplies were among the first relief deliveries to the ravaged Gulf Coast region.
Vermont ambulance crews have provided relief services in response to three hurricanes including Rita, Katrina and, most recently, Gustav. They provided emergency transport and medical services under extremely difficult conditions. The crews developed a reputation nationwide for working unusually long shifts and hours, taking every assignment, and deploying with the highest level of professionalism and skill.
“Watch the video of Operation Special Delivery or listen to the stories of our ambulance crews and it reminds you of just how hardworking, generous and responsive Vermonters are when they know of others who need help or are in trouble,” said Barbara Farr, director of Vermont Emergency Management. “We’re great collectively when it comes time to do the work and pitch in to help others, and we want Vermonters to be just as resolved in preparing themselves.”
- Watch video of Operation Special Delivery
- View and Print a copy of the Family Preparedness Workbook
- Watch the Family Pandemic Flu Preparedness video (60 seconds)
View select Vermont historical news stories about the 1918 Pandemic:
- Spanish Influenza Reaches Burlington - Burlington Free Press 9-29-1918
- The Influenza Situation - Orleans County Monitor 10-9-1918
- Cases numbered 28,842 - Burlington Free Press 11-9-1918