County Seeking 2,400 Volunteers For Possible Smallpox Outbreak

Wednesday, February 26, 2003 - by Rob York
Randall Ricketts. Click to enlarge.
Randall Ricketts. Click to enlarge.
- photo by Rob York

In the event of an outbreak of smallpox in the United States, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department will need 2,400 volunteers trained to help vaccinate citizens from the contagious and deadly virus, the Hamilton Place Rotary Club was told Wednesday.

Randall Ricketts, the emergency response coordinator for the health department, told the club that if a smallpox outbreak does occur, then the county is mandated by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to provide vaccination for all residents of Hamilton County over a period of 10 days.

The vaccinations would remain voluntary, but seven clinics across the county would be able to vaccinate at a rate of 5,000 citizens per day. The county will also provide buses to transport citizens to the clinics, Mr. Ricketts said.

The clinics would operate 24 a day for 10 consecutive days. The county hopes to have the clinics staffed by more than 200 volunteers working 12 hours shifts, Mr. Ricketts said.

“It’s a 10-day commitment, 12 hours a day, so it is tough,” he said. The benefits for volunteering Mr. Ricketts cited include the opportunity to serve, a chance to for volunteers receive the smallpox vaccine for themselves and their families before an outbreak occurs and a chance to learn more about bioterrorism defense.

Smallpox was eradicated from the United States in the early 1970s, Mr. Ricketts said, but because immunizations from the disease ceased 30 years ago, virtually all Americans are vulnerable to its effects if terrorists were to use it. The disease is spread through the air or through close contact. Victims suffer a painful red rash that leaves scarring and 30 percent of those infected die.

Possible ways terrorists could spread the disease involve sending an infected individual to a crowded area, such as through an airline flight traveling between dense metropolitan areas, Mr. Ricketts said. Once the rash the disease causes is visible, it is contagious, he said.

Types of volunteers needed at the clinics include:

*Triage: briefly question persons boarding transportation buses or entering clinics about any illnesses and referring them for medical evaluation if needed

*Forms distributors: passing out disease information, consent forms and pencils; assisting with completion of forms, directing patients and others with special needs to designated areas

*Video areas administrators: run patient information video, direct patients to vaccination area or to medical screening/counseling area if needed

*Clinic assistant: help patients, run errands, distribute supplies

*Supply managers and assistant managers: inventory, distribute and order supplies

*Traffic management: assist police and other security personnel in directing vehicle traffic

*Vaccine administrator: explain vaccine and side effects, administer vaccine and assist in providing care in case of allergic reactions. This requires vaccine administration training

*Interpreters: for volunteers fluent in languages other than English or possessing sign language skills

*Security: assist police in enforcing patient flow or controlling crowds.

Patients at the clinics would be given the cowpox virus as a vaccine, which causes mild side effects such as fever, soreness and an itch in most cases. “If side effects are moderate, you might have to take a day off from work,” Mr. Ricketts said.

Mr. Ricketts has been employed with the health department for nine months, and has been speaking to citizens of Hamilton County about the need for volunteers since January, he said. He hopes to receive more speaking engagements to inform citizens in the near future.

There is no official goal for when the volunteers are needed, but Mr. Ricketts said the county hopes to have the volunteers as soon as possible.

“We need them tomorrow,” he said.



Free Bariatric Seminars Hosted By CHI Memorial Metabolic And Bariatric Care

Free Weekly Senior Taiji Class Begins July 7

Parkridge Health System Begins Construction On New Freestanding Emergency Room In East Ridge


CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care will host free seminars in July on surgical weight loss options. These in-person seminars will be held at CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care at ... (click for more)

A free weekly Senior Taiji (tai chi) class will begin on Thursday, July 7 at 4 p.m. at the Everlan Senior Living Community, 2760 Northpoint Blvd. in Hixson. This class series will focus ... (click for more)

Parkridge Health System held a groundbreaking ceremony on Wednesday for the construction of a new emergency room at 495 Camp Jordan Parkway in East Ridge. As a satellite location of Parkridge ... (click for more)



Living Well

Free Bariatric Seminars Hosted By CHI Memorial Metabolic And Bariatric Care

CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care will host free seminars in July on surgical weight loss options. These in-person seminars will be held at CHI Memorial Metabolic and Bariatric Care at 7405 Shallowford Road, Suite 160 in Chattanooga. The seminars will be held multiple days each week in July. Visit ChattanoogaBariatrics.com and select ‘Register for a Seminar’ for a list ... (click for more)

Free Weekly Senior Taiji Class Begins July 7

A free weekly Senior Taiji (tai chi) class will begin on Thursday, July 7 at 4 p.m. at the Everlan Senior Living Community, 2760 Northpoint Blvd. in Hixson. This class series will focus on strengthening balance and agility, while helping relax and release tensions in the body and mind. Lead by Chris Campbell, a master teacher with 35 years of experience, this course will ... (click for more)

Breaking News

2 Juveniles Hurt When They Are Slung Into Anchored Pontoon Boat At Fort Loudon Lake

Two juveniles were injured in a July 4 boating accident that occurred in the Holder Branch area of Fort Loudon Lake near the Cove at Concord Park. At around 1:20 p.m., Frank Talo, 49, of Knoxville, was operating a personal watercraft that was towing an inner tube with two juveniles onboard who were slung into the side of an anchored pontoon boat. One of the injured ... (click for more)

Gas Prices Drop 9.1 Cents In Chattanooga

Average gasoline prices in Chattanooga have fallen 9.1 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $4.24 per gallon on Tuesday, according to GasBuddy's survey of 170 stations in Chattanooga. Prices in Chattanooga are 15.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and stand $1.40 higher than a year ago. The price of diesel has fallen 6.3 cents nationally in the past week and stands ... (click for more)

Opinion

Uncovering Chattanooga’s Hidden Gem

Missionary Ridge is Chattanooga's "diamond in the rough" that can spearhead a new era in our city's growth. Way back on Nov. 25, 1863, soldiers under the leadership of General Ulysses S. Grant stormed Missionary Ridge and broke the back of the Confederacy. The Battle of Missionary Ridge demonstrated the superior forces of the industrialized North and gave their soldiers a chance ... (click for more)

Is The Guy With The Gun A Good Guy Or A Bad Guy? - And Response (3)

So we have experienced another mass killing. Recently - on the very day a few gun safety measures were made into law - the Supreme Court in its infinite wisdom said it is okay to open carry your guns. My question is this - if I see a person carry a gun into my grocery store should I worry? How will I know if he is a good guy with a gun or a bad guy with a gun? I guess the ... (click for more)