Category Archives: Emergency Preparedness

DHEC Marks Poisoning Prevention Week by Offering Tips for Parents and Caregivers

National Poisoning Prevention Week is observed the third week of March every year and brings awareness to household poisonings and resources such as poison control centers and the Poison Control Help Hotline.  

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Get to know DHEC’s Environmental Surveillance and Oversight Program (ESOP)

Beginning in 1995, the Midlands Aiken Environmental Affairs office of DHEC became the home base for Environmental Surveillance and Oversight Program (ESOP) . This program was established through an agreement between the Department of Energy-Savannah River (DOE-SR) and DHEC to provide non-regulatory, environmental monitoring of the Savannah River Site, a post-Cold War-era nuclear material production facility that is on a 310-square mile area located 20 miles south of Aiken.

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DHEC Works with Partners to Ensure COVID-19 Messaging Reaches Deaf and Hard of Hearing

An important aspect of the COVID-19 response has been making sure that emergency messaging reaches as many South Carolinians as possible. In recognition of the Americans With Disabilities Act anniversary this week, we wanted to highlight how DHEC and partners made sure this messaging reached the deaf and hard of hearing living in and visiting our state. 

Throughout the response, DHEC has worked with our partners, including the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD), to assure that important information is accessible to those with hearing disabilities through American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and closed captioning. 

SCEMD and DHEC worked to make sure that ASL interpreters were on-camera for Gov. Henry McMaster’s press conferences and COVID-19 updates, broadcast live throughout the state and on South Carolina ETV through the pandemic. 

One of these interpreters, Josie McDaniel-Burkett, also worked with DHEC on a series of public service announcements completely in ASL, following the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. McDaniel-Burkett is the Director of Interpreting Services at South Carolina Interpreting Services for the Deaf, who provides ASL support throughout major emergencies that occur in our state – including public health and natural disasters. 

DHEC has also put special effort into transcribing closed captions for all our public service announcements and videos posted to YouTube and other social media platforms. The COVID-19 media briefings are also captioned, using automatic captioning software through Facebook and YouTube. We have also worked within the agency to offer Spanish closed captioning on our Spanish language PSAs. 

DHEC Recognizes National Trauma Awareness Month by Highlighting Healthcare Quality Programs

May is National Trauma Awareness Month, and the American Trauma Society (ATS) has deemed this year’s theme “Safe & Secure: Safety is a Choice, Prevention is Key.”   

Most injuries are preventable, and it takes us as individuals to be aware of our surroundings, informed of current practices and methods, and encouraging others to practice safety and prevention. Luckily, DHEC has a number of employees who have dedicated their careers to teaching the public and healthcare providers what it means to prevent injury and traumas.  

Child Passenger Safety Program  

Did you know that DHEC has a Child Passenger Safety Program? Its purpose is to educate parents and the community, public health offices, and partner organization on how to properly install various child safety seats, including booster seats, to prevent child trauma in vehicular accidents.  

Child Passenger Safety Technicians will explain potential dangers for children who are not properly restrained and will serve as a valuable resource for child passenger safety. Karen Moore is a Child Passenger Safety Technician and partners with Safe Kids Worldwide.  

Healthcare Systems and Services  

DHEC’S Bureau of Healthcare Systems and Services is doing great work with South Carolina’s healthcare providers and the community. Within the bureau is the division of EMS, which is gearing up for EMS Week, May 16th-22nd, 2021.

Each day during EMS Week has a different theme, and May 19th is EMS for Children Day. Karen is also the interim manager for Emergent Care and coordinates the EMS for Children program at DHEC. She is actively involved with the mission to improve performance measures and healthcare outcomes for children through education and training for EMS personnel and hospital providers.  

EMS for Children 

The EMS for Children program focuses on prevention in many, if not all, of its initiatives.  

The program holds an annual Pediatric Trauma & Injury Prevention Symposium as a collaboration with the South Carolina Trauma Association. This year marked the 11th annual symposium, which was held in early March. Presentations and topics varied from pediatric burn prevention, traumatic brain injury among children, to new advances in early trauma management.  

This training helps providers in the field stay up to date with the latest data, equipment advances, and prevention & treatment protocol.  

Stop the Bleed 

Also among EMS for Children’s initiatives is the Stop the Bleed program, which has its own observance on May 20th during EMS Week (May 16-22).  

Stop the Bleed is an annual observance that focuses on training the public how to stop traumatic bleeding. Participants will learn how to apply pressure to a wound, pack a wound to control bleeding, and apply a tourniquet.  

The training is open to anyone and offered by a number of organizations; DHEC partners with the American Red Cross. Being trained to Stop the Bleed can mean preventing further injury or death for a traumatically injured person waiting for help from professionals. To find out more about the Stop the Bleed campaign, click here to visit their website.  

In observance of National Trauma Awareness Month, we’ve highlighted a few ways DHEC is working to prevent injury, disability, and fatal outcomes in the community. Please check out the links to learn more. 

By providing trainings and information on these trauma prevention methods, DHEC displays the core value of Promoting Teamwork and the agency strategy of Education and Engagement.  

DHEC and S.C. Hospital Association Partner to Help Patients Stay Safe During Disasters

In the face of natural disasters such as Hurricane Dorian that threatened to strike South Carolina last year, DHEC and entities such as the S.C. Hospital Association (SCHA) communicate with each other, patients, and the public about their respective storm efforts to better serve patients and their loved ones.

“The partnership between DHEC and hospitals in the state of South Carolina is vitally important,” said Justin KierDHEC’s Emergency Preparedness Coordinator with Bureau of Healthcare Planning and Construction. “Folks saw that through the messaging that was done through our online resources and our media resources, but also they saw that in their communities as well.”

More than 220 DHEC staff were activated around-the-clock leading up to, during, and after this storm event in 2019.

During the response to Hurricane Dorian, DHEC staff helped coordinate the safe evacuation and re-entry of more than 7,000 patients from 175 regulated health care facilities impacted by the Governor’s mandatory medical evacuation order, including

  • 13 hospitals,
  • 25 nursing homes, and
  • 92 assisted living facilities

“We help bring DHEC together with hospitals to make sure that hospitals are aware and understand their requirements to evacuate patients and get them to safer areas,” said Melanie MatneySCHA System Chief Operating Officer.

 This coordination is an example of the agency demonstrating leadership and collaboration with entities such as the SCHA. In addition, DHEC employees embrace service every day.

This commitment is further highlighted during emergency events such as a hurricane, in which hundreds of DHEC staff work together with our partners to directly assist in preparing for and responding to the storm while others volunteer and/or take on extra duties to ensure that our day-to-day operations remained intact.

Learn more about DHEC’s response efforts to Hurricane Dorian.