Loma Linda Prepares County Environmental Health Departments
To preserve the public’s health in the event of a disaster, Loma Linda University School of Public Health is training the environmental health departments of the counties of San Bernardino and Riverside, CA in emergency response. About 70 people from San Bernardino County came to the campus February 9-10 for the two-day training. On March 24-25, school representatives went to Riverside and trained approximately 100 professionals from the county.
Topics covered include food safety, available drinking water, shelter, waste water services and solid waste management—the bare essentials of healthy living, all of which could be compromised by a devastating earthquake, fire or other natural or manmade disaster.
“Environmental health is for everyone, everywhere, all the time, and this is particularly true during disasters,” said Dean David Dyjack. “Our school is providing valuable training to regional public sector environmental health specialists so they can contribute to preparedness and emergency response efforts in a meaningful and professional manner.”
The trainers came from the California Department of Public Health, San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, the American Red Cross Inland Empire Chapter and Loma Linda School of Public Health.
Environmental health specialist Ms. Grizelda Velasquez-Reisinger attended the February training, which she said helped make her department as prepared as possible for when an emergency arises.
“We are there in the middle of it all informing, educating and providing support to the residents of San Bernardino County,” she said. “This training empowers us to be the most effective and efficient in the most uncertain of times. On a daily basis, different levels of emergencies arise regularly; this kind of training prepares us even in the smallest emergency.”
Fellow environmental health specialist Ms. Julie Sica appreciated the specific examples of successful strategies used in previous crises. She also learned about the flexibility required in an emergency.
“Everybody has a specific role that may be very different than the one we do at work every day,” she stated.
[Photo caption: Environmental health professionals from San Bernardino County listen to a training session conducted by Ms. Andrea Champlin of Loma Linda University Center for Public Health Preparedness.]