Service Providers Convene on Emergency Preparedness

Personal readiness stressed for both staff and clients

Nearly 100 community service providers attended the “Disaster Planning for Populations With Special Needs” conference held in the Putnam County TOPS Building Wednesday, June 12.

Organized by the Putnam County Department of Health and the Bureau of Emergency Services, the half-day event brought together front-line, direct care workers who provide services to those with special vulnerabilities, including children, the frail and elderly, as well as those experiencing homelessness, cultural isolation, language barriers, physical or mental disabilities.

The take-home message for the day was on improving personal readiness — not just for the clients of the service providers, but for the staff as well. Emergencies and disasters occur without much warning. Evacuation or sheltering at home may become necessary, with limited food, water, medications and other supplies. Providers who have done little to prepare themselves and their families will find it more difficult to assist clients or others in these tasks.

An overview of the county government’s readiness efforts was provided by Adam Stiebeling, Putnam County commissioner of the Bureau of Emergency Services. Stiebeling described the planning, training and drills that lay a foundation so that when problems arise, county personnel can respond and mitigate the situation, and move to recovery. Maintaining countywide communications including the 911 system, preserving a stockpile of emergency supplies and equipment for various special response teams, and administering training for emergency medical services (EMS) and fire agencies, are among numerous ongoing bureau responsibilities.

The Health Department’s mission is to improve and protect the health of Putnam County residents through prevention of illness and injury. Core services include community health assessment, disease surveillance and control, environmental health protection, family health promotion and health education. For more information, visit

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