>Notes to self in case of pandemic or bioterrorism

>I did it again. I signed up for more training with our public health department. The latest session, about two hours, was at a local high school to learn the ropes at an actual flu shot clinic.

After I signed in, the folks in charge assigned me and one other volunteer to another registration table. Our job was to hand out cookies and bottles of water to the volunteers as they arrived –with no opportunities to wash up first.
Note to self: bring hand sanitizer or antibacterial wet wipes next time.

As the majority of the volunteers were dispersed to their stations, complete with water bottle and cookie snack, we were relocated to the communications trainer. This trainer was a local police officer who was in charge of two things: training volunteers in using the radios and finding a channel that would actually work in all the clinic stations throughout the high school building. They had already tested two channels unsuccessfully; our group was to try the third. He taught us the basics, helped us find the assigned channel, and then showed us how to wear the police-style radios and shoulder microphones.
Note to self: if assigned to communications, wear a belt. A strong one. These radios are heavy!

After communications training, our group joined another batch of workers at the exit station putting together bags of information and supplies. As people exited the shot clinic, they picked up these bags to take home. The supervisor told us she hoped to make up at least a thousand such bags. I don’t know how many they made before my group arrived, but I know the seven of us packed up several hundred. Typical of teachers and school staff (as were all the volunteers tonight), we streamlined the process to make it more efficient. If we had to spend time on our feet, we were going to be productive, darn it.
Note to self: wear comfortable shoes — very comfortable shoes.

We then returned to the registration table, this time to check people out and collect their “uniform” vests and name tags. These blue vinyl mesh vests were so ugly (how ugly were they?) that more than half the people handed them in with a sarcastic, “Oh, I don’t get to keep it?”
Note to self: don’t worry about wardrobe. The vests will make anything look bad. And in a crisis situation, no one will care.

The time went quickly. The explanations made sense. Trainers explained not only how-to, but also why. I liked knowing the rationale behind the structure and the plan. The trivia fiend in me enjoyed hearing that emergency planners looked to Disney theme parks to figure out ways to move large numbers of people efficiently.

Of course, I hope this kind of emergency, pandemic or biological attack, never happens. but like first aid and CPR, it’s a type of necessary skill that no one wants to use. I’d say, “Bring it on!” but I really don’t want to see a health emergency, flu or otherwise, reach these proportions.
Note to self: get flu shot. Soon.

Update: Yesterday, I got my annual flu shot (ouch). The people at the registration desk were crabby and hated the long lines; the nurses were wonderful and thrilled that so many people came.
Note to self: it’s good when a lot of people want a flu shot. Stay friendly and courteous.

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