Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
September 5, 2008 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., director
"By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail."
~Ben Franklin
Last week I talked about the significance of building a new psychiatric hospital and the important role that facility will play in a revamped statewide system of care for individuals with mental illness. For those of you who were not able to be at Wednesday's groundbreaking, I've attached photos of the event and an artist's sketch of the new building to this week's message. This new facility will help prepare us to deliver the full continuum of mental health services Oregonians need.
Oregon State Hospital interior
The new hospital will be state-of-the-art.

But this week, in the wake of hurricane Gustav and several more storms off the Atlantic coast, I want to talk about preparation of another kind -- about how you can prepare yourselves and your families to safely make it through a major emergency event. Coincidentally, it's also National Preparedness Month.

We don't have a hurricane season, but we do get severe wind, snow and ice storms that cause multi-day power outages. We experience earthquakes, landslides and floods. Disasters can and do happen in Oregon. Planning for emergencies is relatively simple. Dealing with the consequences of not having planned for a disaster is hard.

Oregon State Hospital
Current OSH Superintendent Roy J. Orr and Dean Brooks, OSH superintendent 1955-1982, were among the 400 guests at this week's groundbreaking for the new state hospital.

So today I want to talk about how each of us as individuals can prepare to survive a natural or human-caused disaster or a public health emergency.

First, make preparing for emergencies an annual or semi-annual event. Update your preparations at the same time you're getting ready to send kids back to school, or include planning in the list of things you do twice a year such as checking smoke detector and flashlight batteries, or do it with your spring cleaning. The more you can make preparation a routine event, the better off you will be when a disaster inevitably occurs.

To prepare for emergencies that force you to leave home or prevent you from returning home:

  • Designate a place outside your neighborhood where everyone in your family will meet.
  • As a back-up plan, designate an out-of-town contact all family members can call if they can't make it to the designated meeting site.
  • Learn the evacuation plans for your children's school or day care center, the care facilities where your family members may live, and any other places where your family spends time.
  • Learn about your community's warning signals -- what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them. Learn the evacuation routes and the designated shelters.
  • Have a list of items you will need to take with you if you won't be home for several days -- medicines, cash and credit cards, phone lists, toiletries and other basics. Keep your physicians' and pharmacies' numbers in your cell phone or in a notebook.
  • Get training in first-aid and emergency response.
Oregon State Hospital interior
OSH patients launch the new state hospital construction project with Gov. Ted Kulongoski, Senate President Peter Courtney and DHS Director Dr. Bruce Goldberg.

To prepare for emergencies that leave you house-bound:

  • Set aside a shelf in a closet or the garage where you can keep a kit of emergency supplies that will last for at least three days. The kit should include basic items such as water, food, a hand-cranked or battery-powered radio and flashlight, a first-aid kit and pet food. Check and update this supply once or twice a year.
  • Try to always refill any essential prescriptions at least a week before they run out so that you always have a week's supply available.
  • Get training in first-aid and emergency response.
  • If possible, check on your neighbors to make sure they are safe.

You can find more preparation information this month in the lobbies of the Human Services Building in Salem and the Public Health Division in Portland, or on the Web at http://www.oregon.gov/DHS/ph/preparedness/.

I urge you to take advantage of this information to plan ahead and be prepared. We all work so hard to keep others safe that we tend to forget our own need for safety. But please take care of yourselves as well. Don't let a public emergency also become a personal disaster.

###

DHS on the web