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HCPH knows 'how to handle' itself to help community in an emergency

Zoe Greszler • Jul 30, 2019 at 7:00 PM

Huron County residents can rest easy knowing in the case of an emergency or community-wide catastrophe, the health department and its emergency services will be ready to spring into action. Health commissioner Tim Hollinger said this past week proved that. 

Hollinger said Huron County Public Health took the opportunity to complete an important exercise with its recent move to 28 Executive Drive. The Ohio Department of Health has been recommending that health departments run through how it would respond to an emergency situation. What if a tornado hit Norwalk, taking out the department's building, devastating many families and homes? 

Hollinger feels his department in a good place as far as as preparation goes, and that residents can be confident in their abilities. 

“A lot of this move was learning what you would do in the case of an emergency,” he said. “It’s interesting how until you do something, you never think of all the angles and possibilities, until you go through it. We can (care for the county). We know how to handle ourselves.”

Hollinger said health departments are “dual-roled” in that they provide non-emergent daily services, but need to be ready to switch into an emergency-response role should the need arise. Mostly, this could involve working with birth and death certificates, filling them out and keeping them safe from potential terrorists or others seeking to steal an identity, as well as acting as an auxiliary support system to the police and fire departments. This secondary role isn’t one the department is used to, “so we just need to practice it and get better at it,” he said.

That’s exactly what the department did, and plans to continue to do, Hollinger said. There’s no such thing as too prepared, and the organization takes that serious, especially now as things could easily heat up to a potentially threatening situation.

“It’s important because I don’t know why our world is getting the way it is, but it’s getting more dangerous,” Hollinger said.

“All you have to do is watch and it seems like every other country in the world hates us. It’s a little unnerving when you see the tension level, not only outside of the United State’s but also the tension level within the United States, and the increased violence of massed shootings and school shootings. We’re in a heightened time period of where something could occur. So it’s really imperative to make sure: ‘Are you ready and prepared for it?’”

For example, he said they learned the need to perfect their birth and death certificate process should the need arise for the service to become mobile. They also learned that department would need to easily accessed and phone and computer lines are switched over with the snap of a finger. A lot of coordination and cooperation is needed. Hollinger said the department already has some agreements set in place and plans to make others.

“Like we have agreements too with Fisher-Titus if there was a need for a media event (in the case of an emergency) we could go to their facility,’ he said. “So all of that is already in place for an emergencyAnd it helps being on that end of town, because those are the people that’s we’re going to need to be in contact with in the event of an emergency.”

Regardless of the emergency that might be posed to Huron County, HCPH is ready and capable to assist the community. 

“You have to think ‘How would you continue to service the population?’ We know how to do it,” Hollinger said. 

Clarification

A recent visiting viewpoint in the Norwalk Reflector stated the Huron County Public Health was looking into removing the Enrichment Centers For Huron County from its building. “(Huron County commissioner) Terry Boose said ‘they’ may soon have to remove us from that site,” the letter read. “And when he was asked at the board meeting who ‘they’ are he deferred to the health department.”

“That’s not our function,” health commissioner Tim Hollinger said. “We do not condemn buildings.”

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