Emergency Communication Preps

by Tashun Chism

A recent Homeland Security report revealed most urban areas have gaps in emergency communication and are not prepared for terrorist attacks like 9/11. Here in East Texas, disaster preparation continues to be a major focus.

"In terms of all the various city departments, angelina county, other agencies like the red cross and salvations army, I think we're fine. We're as good as we can be at this point in time," said Lufkin Fire Department Chief Pete Prewitt.

But terrorist attacks aren't the only reason East Texas emergency response organizations are working to coordinate communication plans.

"We also have been working on a pandemic flu plan. Our fire department has completed our plan and we are now in the process of assisting the other city departments in the completion of that plan and certainly that's one that we hope never comes around, but we have to be as prepared as possible," Prewitt added.

"Pandemic flu would be a strain of flu that most people have never seen or encountered before. It'll be a strain that's new to humans, one that there's not a vaccine available for. Currently the strain that they're looking at as a possible potential is the bird that we're seeing in the world right now," said Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Meredith Stanford.

Experts at the Angelina County and Cities Health District have been spreading the word about Pandemic Flu, to make sure East Texans are ready for the possibility of an outbreak.

"Locally I believe we're pretty prepared. Beginning earlier in the summer we began doing education sessions for businesses, faith based organizations, education. All the entities in our community that we consider stake holders we invited to attend sessions where we could inform them about what the pandemic is, how it could affect them and how they could plan," Stanford added.

Overall, East Texas officials agree the goal is not to scare the public, but to stay prepared for emergencies.