Bio-preparedness conference underway in Norfolk

Norfolk is hosting the seventh annual conference of the Nebraska Center for Bio-Preparedness. 

Center associate director Sharon Medcalf says more than 70 people are taking part in the two-day event. Medcalf says it’s a diverse audience of emergency responders, health care professionals, veterinarians, police and civic leaders — who all come together to discuss a community response to certain types of events.

Medcalf says the focus of the conferences have changed over the past seven years. The conferences started in 2002 and were more focused on terrorism, while now they’re now targeting more of an all-hazards approach.

Nebraska’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Joanne Schaefer addressed the conference Wednesday. Schaefer says with all that happened recently with the H1N1 flu outbreak, people can see the advantage of good planning. There’s been a lot of terrorism preparedness but she says people still need to be vigilant for anything unusual they might see — things that don’t fit.

This year’s program includes general sessions on natural disasters that have occurred recently across the country — including the Iowa floods and the Little Sioux Boy Scout Camp tornado one year ago today.

Medcalf says topics that are being discussed include the flu, psychological first aid for the first responders, food-borne disease — plus something a little different — a one-act play will be performed that focuses on the “Typhoid Mary” case and which can bring good discussion on the legal and ethical issues surrounding quarantines.

Lieutenant Governor Rick Sheehy is scheduled to speak to the group today.

Thanks to Jim Curry, WJAG, Norfolk