By Jeff Schueler, Director, Public Safety
If you missed the H1N1 flu inoculation clinic on January 8 and 9, you’re not alone. Of the more than 12,000 doses available, only about 1,700 were actually administered. But it wasn’t because the clinic didn’t work out. In fact, it worked remarkably well – particularly in light of the fact that so much of its planning came right down to the wire.
News about the epidemic formerly known as swine flu had already become much more comforting by mid-December than it had been earlier in the fall. So the sense of urgency just wasn’t there. And by the time the state organized its mass inoculation clinics, including the one here in Cranberry, the vaccine was already available at pharmacies and doctors’ offices and work places.
But it was a good learning experience for everyone involved. For one thing, it confirmed how fortunate we are to have a facility like the Manheim Pittsburgh Auto Auction in our community; it worked out beautifully. For another, both days saw people from state and county agencies, as well as Cranberry’s own EMS and Public Safety, working at the clinic and doing so without tripping over one another, which is always reassuring. We also had help from a handful of local volunteers. And that experience made clear how important having volunteers to call on really is to making a clinic like that run smoothly.
So in a way, it’s good that the numbers were lower than originally projected; I’m not sure we would have had enough volunteers to keep things together if it had turned into a siege. So for us, the take-home lesson is that having a pool of people who can be contacted on short notice to help with urgent situations is going to be critical in responding to crises that arise in the future.
That need, as well as other lessons learned from the clinic, will be the focus of debriefings which the agencies involved have scheduled over the coming weeks. So when the next unforeseen event takes place, we expect to be even better prepared.