Seaside fire chief calls local bioterrorism, outbreak preparedness efforts important for a coastal city

Courtesy of Seaside Fire and Rescue

As the fire chief in Seaside, Oregon, Joey Daniels has a unique perspective on emergency preparedness and disaster response.

He is a member of the hazardous materials (HAZMAT) response team in Astoria, just 15 miles away, and is the head of the volunteer fire department in a coastal community with a strong tourist presence.

“I don’t know if anybody is fully prepared for an outbreak situation,” Daniels said. “I think it depends on the scenario. You can’t prepare for everything at once, but with an outbreak, you often have to be reactive.”

He said if there was an outbreak of the flu, for example, the response would be different than if there was an outbreak of Ebola or something similar. For something like the flu, he said, they would likely start a public outreach campaign. But for something like Ebola, the department would institute a quarantine in the cold zone, he said.

“We would also get a HAZMAT team to come down for a consultation. For something like the flu, we would try to get information out to the public regarding what might be going on,” Daniels said.

Although emergency personnel often have to be in a reactive mode when it comes to an outbreak of an infectious condition, the personnel at the city of Seaside know the importance of planning and preparation for emergencies as well.

Seaside has an emergency operations plan that is regularly reviewed and updated. It includes such things as what positions first responders might take in the event of an emergency - like who would act as the information officer – and for incidents that could occur.

“We meet once a month to review the plan. We always try to update the plan for every emergency,” Daniels said.

Staying up to date on that emergency operations manual and having plans in advance is important for a small city like Seaside, he said.