Wiedrich: State doing well in emergency response | Prairie Public Broadcasting

Wiedrich: State doing well in emergency response

Jun 5, 2014

The chief of the state Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness and Response section says the last year has been a busy one.

Tim Wiedrich says there have been a dozen situations where the Health Department’s Emergency Operations Center has been activated.

"We've responded to a wide variety of incidents," said Wiedrich. "Things like train derailments, water emergencies, tornadoes and a wide variety of other types of emergencies -- including communicable disease."

And Wiedrich says the state, in partnership with local emergency personnel, has handled things well.

"All in all, from my biased standpoint, I think we're doing really well," said Wiedrich. However, he says there are things that could be improved. Wiedrich says he's looking at additional placement of emergency response equipment.

The state's eight largest cities are home to 53 foot semi-trailers that have emergency response equipment in them.

"They consist of the type of equipment we need for seriously injured patients, when the need exceeds the what the various EMS services or hospitals have," said Wiedrich. "We also have 100 beds in those trailers for people who are not seriously injured, but when additional capacity is needed."

Wiedrich says there have been a couple of situations where higher capacities were needed than what the Department had in the field.

"There was a significant natural gas disruption that threatened long term care facilities, hospitals and other institutions during the dead of winter," said Wiedrich. "What we quickly found is that it combined with a snowstorm that stopped su from transporting materioals in and out of cities. Those are the types of situations where we would like to have the equipment close to the affected areas."

The Health Department held a meeting to brief the public about its emergency activities.