The New England blizzard of 2013

From the CDC’s blog, Public Health Matters:

Many of you followed the historic blizzard that hit the Northeast last weekend.  Sure, it was fun to watch the weather reporters with yardsticks ready to measure the torrents of accumulating snow.  For me, what quickly became apparent in the February nor’easter is how many ways public health touches lives in a disaster and how the public health response is affected by factors beyond our control.

As a field assignee (FA) from CDC’s Division of State and Local Readiness, I am attached to the Massacusetts Department of Public Health’s Emergency Preparedness Bureau.  I support the Bureau’s development of medical countermeasure preparedness and response capabilities as outlined in the PHEP (Public Health Emergency Preparedness) agreement between the State and CDC. Field assignees are the “on the ground” eyes and ears of CDC.

Public health was at the forefront of concern in this historical storm. Without power, homes, businesses, and healthcare facilities all lost heat. At my house it was 16 degrees below zero at 8:00 a.m. this past Sunday!

Unfortunately, there were casualties from carbon monoxide poisoning. Without heat, people turned to generators, stoves, and grills to heat their homes. People were also warming themselves up in their cars, but the exhaust pipes were clogged with snow and the CO gas backfilled into the car interior.  Prevention and education are core pieces of what public health does and even though the State and the media got the word out, we tragically still had victims of CO poisoning.

Read the complete post here.

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