Preparing for the storm

By Jamie Shuster

(The following post was originally sent as an email to DHEC Public Health staff on 2/2/14.)

One of our most important functions at DHEC is working with key partners to help prepare for, respond to and recover from emergency and disaster situations.

While many of us spent the early part of last week at home enjoying the snow, our Public Health Preparedness team was working hard to ensure that DHEC was ready to help respond to the winter storm.

Preparations for the storm began Monday when our preparedness staff participated in an SC Emergency Management Division (EMD) call to the counties. Based on information received on this call, our staff immediately began preparing to staff our Emergency Support Function-8, which provides critical health and medical services support in an emergency. Regional staff began organizing materials, equipment and supplies that might be needed in responding to the storm, and preparing to open special medical needs shelters.

Throughout the storm, twice daily conference calls were led by DHEC’s Director of Public Health Preparedness and included our Directors of Client Services and Nursing, as well as each our regional health directors and representatives from Administration and Environmental Health Services. This was a great example of staff coming together in the spirit of being one DHEC to lend a hand.

Fortunately, we did not have to respond to the storm, but were ready and staff across the state were standing by, if needed. This was a good opportunity for us to work with our internal and external partners, like county EMDs and hospitals, to practice our response plans.

Thank you to all of our preparedness staff statewide and to the many other DHEC team members from the regions and health regulations who spent several days last week working hard to ensure the safety of our friends and family.

I’d like to extend a special thanks to:

Dan Drociuk, Director of Public Health Preparedness (PHP)

Derrick Mims, Director of Client Services

Angie Olawsky, Director of Nursing

Ruthie Odom, Outgoing Pee Dee Region PHP Director & Pee Dee Operations Manager

Raymond Barteet, Lowcountry PHP Director

Karen Hutto, Midlands PHP Director

Don Peace, Upstate PHP Director

Linda Johnson, Pee Dee Region Health Director (RHD)

Dana Millet, Lowcountry RHD

Nick Davidson, Midlands RHD

Matt Petrofes, Upstate RHD

It’s been a great illustration of how our team members across the agency rally together to help keep South Carolinians healthy and safe.