Communication is crucial during Tennessee emergencies

While countermeasures and plans are key for any emergency preparedness and response approach, the Tennessee Department of Health also places priority on communication with the public.

The content and degree of that communication, however, is closely guarded to enhance protection of residents.

"Tennessee has a robust, well-exercised effort in this regard – but it would be counterproductive for us to provide details of these efforts," Woody W. McMillan, director of communications and media relations for the Tennessee Department of Health, said in an interview with BioPrepWatch.

What the department has done, in lieu of Ebola reaching the country, is make valuable information related to the disease accessible on its website at health.state.tn.us.

The site includes a detailed map of foreign countries, outlining the risk of local transmission of viruses, including Ebola. Each location is classified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's travel advisory rating.

Tennessee currently has no documented cases of Ebola, but is working to help those at increased risk of infection and enable health care facilities to better assist others.

The state's website also encourages individuals to contribute to these efforts by being cooperative and honest about any symptoms, as well as promoting education rather than unfounded fear.

"While all (citizens) have some umbrella of services by government entities, some individuals, families or businesses may have undertaken individual efforts to be better protected than others," McMillan said.

In the event of an outbreak, the state would communicate through public announcements to make all aware of their level of risk and what can be done to alleviate it.