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Pandemic planning efforts near completion

Last fall representatives from eight different sectors of the county began meeting to form a plan in case of the onset of pandemic flu, a leading health concern. The plan, which is nearing completion, will be added to the county’s current emergency operating plan.

“We’re about 90 percent complete,” said Kevin McKinney, Marengo County EMA director.

McKinney along with officials from the health department, first responders, businesses, government, communication, healthcare and faith-based organizations were given a model plan and were then given the task of making the plan work for Marengo County and its specific needs. The group, known as the local emergency planning committee, has been meeting each month to work out the details.

“Our next step is to just get this information out to the cities, towns and the public,” McKinney said.

Once the group puts the finishing touches on the plan, which will detail the protocol for everything from how to disseminate information to how many people can be held at mass care facilities, the Marengo County Commission will have adopt it as an annex to their existing EOP.

A similar effort has been underway in surrounding counties, especially as pandemic flu has become a real concern. McKinney said the efforts of the group will ultimately benefit the county citizens.

“Although it has been identified for pandemic flu, there is so much in there that can be applied to all kinds of incidents,” he said.

Officials expect the plan to be finished by September. Once the process is complete, the local emergency planning committee will then begin focusing their efforts on all hazards planning, which can be anything from tornadoes to hazardous materials spills.