McPherson County Emergency Management director updates City Commission on Ebola response if it comes to McPherson County

By Nick Gosnell
October 20, 2014

McPherson County Emergency Management Director Darren Frazier visited the McPherson City Commission meeting on Monday to update commissioners and the public on the plans by Emergency Management in the case of a potential Ebola patient in McPherson County.

Frazier said, "We started about three weeks ago. We have Priority Dispatch, which is our CAD system that we purchased a few years back. Priority Dispatch has a component in it for what we call protocol 26, which is a sick person call. Those questions are aligned with most of the items that you would ask in an Ebola case. This kind of dovetails into our flu season. We're in that flu season. So, that was already in place. Priority Dispatch added a component, which they feel is necessary, which would be, 'Have you traveled outside the United States, and what is your time period?' We have decided that unless they specifically give that, we're going to go ahead and ask them. That way we can go ahead and give our heads up to our responding emergency responders."

McPherson County participated in the KDHE statewide conference call, where KDHE outlined the state's response if an Ebola case comes to Kansas. The first 48 hours with a potential Ebola case would be handled by the local hospital a patient comes to, until they get a State response.

Frazier said, "That patient would remain. It doesn't matter how small a hospital that is, they're going to have to take care of that patient until things are in place."

Emergency Management also worked with Fern Hess, McPherson County Health officer, to arrange a meeting with stakeholders in the county. That meeting took place after the statewide phone call.

Frazier said, "We met with Dr. Weller, Dr. Gorman, who is EMS' medical director and we had several representatives from a couple of EMS's. We had one representative from the refinery, simply because they have a lot of people working out there that are coming in from out of state. So, they were interested to see what our response would be also."

Frazier added, "Basically, we're at all hazards response. If this occurs, we'll take the steps necessary to try to mitigate what's going on with it. I don't think we can be completely ready for anything, but at least we have a game plan among our stakeholders. CDC put a thing out this weekend, that they are recommending all emergency  responders like EMS, Fire to take their own precautions, what they normally do if there's potential for bodily fluids, but they also are recommending long sleeves, because the virus lives on the skin. So, the least amount of skin exposure for the responders."

The new updates to the software for the dispatchers so they ask the right questions have already gone into the system.