Waldo County emergency management: the department with the plan

Courtesy of Waldo County Emergency Mangement

Emergency Management Director Dale Rowley said that the low population density in Waldo County, Maine, could be a positive thing if an outbreak of a hard-to-treat or deadly condition were to occur.

“There are no large gathering points (in Waldo County), so I think it would move more slowly,” Rowley said.

Even so, the public health response team – comprised of the two-person emergency management department, first responders and personnel from the county hospital - is ready with a plan. In 2009, as the H1N1 flu swept across the country, the team created a disease outbreak response plan as an addendum to other emergency plans.

“We would follow those protocols,” Rowley said. “We would call our public health planning team together and look at the situation to determine what actions to take.”

The county doesn’t have a lot of resources available, but they have a strong plan.

Rowley said the county's 25-bed county hospital is typically full. If an outbreak of a condition like Ebola or a biological terror attack were to occur, patients would likely be sent to larger hospitals in other areas.

Rowley has been the county's emergency management director for nine years, but this is not his first experience with emergency planning. Before that, he served as an Air Force emergency preparedness officer for 15 years, where his focus was on chemical biological warfare response and emergency planning.