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Emergency Preparedness

Lisa Zeiner - Preparedness Coordinator

Public health threats are always present. Whether caused by natural, accidental, or intentional means, these threats can lead to the onset of public health incidents. Being prepared to prevent, respond to, and rapidly recover from public health threats is critical for protecting and securing our community's public health. To lessen the effects of all-hazard emergencies, the Putnam County Health Department (PCHD) is engaged in pre-planning and coordination with public sector agencies, such as with Putnam County Hospital's Incident Management Team (IMT), the Putnam County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), the Putnam County Emergency Management Agency (EMA), and the Indiana Department of Health District 7 Public Health and Emergency Response Team. All staff members participate in National Incident Management System/Incident Command System (NIMS/ICS) trainings and exercises.


The Putnam County Health Department is in need of volunteers to help in the event of a public health catastrophe. Our training standard is that we have the capability of getting medication to every citizen of Putnam County within 48 hours of a disaster incident. In order to do that, we estimate that we need 300 workers/staff. The Putnam County Health Department employs 6 people. If a Public Health emergency were to occur, we would need help from volunteers, like you, to assist in protecting our community.

How do I become a Health Department Volunteer? Simply complete our registration form and mail it or turn it in to the Health Department at the address/fax number above. If you would rather scan and email your application in, please send it to

Our Volunteer Registration Form can be found HERE

What does the job of a Health Department Volunteer entail? We need people to hand out forms. We need people to help other people fill out forms. We need people to collect the completed forms. We need people to carry messages from one table to another, or one building to another. We need people who will direct traffic in a busy parking lot, regardless of weather. Yes, we also need nurses, doctors, pharmacists, physicianís assistants, medical technicians, counselors, social workers, psychologist, epidemiologists, EMTís and other medical professionals who are trained to vaccinate people, and who understand medications and can identify potential medicinal conflicts. If you are looking for a volunteer position in which you work every Tuesday afternoon, or something like that, this is not the job for you. We need you when Putnam County has been affected with some calamity, not on a routine basis.

What is a Public Health catastrophe/disaster? Worst case, we are talking about a biological or chemical attack upon a community or region. Lesser, but still serious incidents, disease outbreak, or mass causality incident. If something like this were to happen, the Health Department would have a few hours to set up a Point of Dispensing (a place where we could distribute medication to a lot of people in a short time) or a family assistant center (a place where family/friends could gather to get information during a mass causality incident). We already have arrangements with certain facilities within the county to use their space in a time of emergency. What we need are people to staff these facilities.

Is training offered so I know what to do? Yes, we have an outstanding training resource, most of which is computer-based and on the internet. We would like each volunteer to take a 3 hour orientation course. But if a volunteer is interested in learning more, there are many additional courses available, mostly independent study, and it is all free of cost.

How will I know if/when the Health Department needs my help? On your registration form you will list your phone number and perhaps an email address. In the event of a Public Health Emergency, we would email, text (cell phones), and then telephone you, in that order, telling you where and when to report for work. All volunteers are also required to register through SERV-IN. SERV-IN is an acronym for State Emergency Registry of Volunteers for Indiana which is an electronic registration system and database of local, regional and statewide volunteer programs who want to assist public health and healthcare systems during an event or disaster. To Register with SERV-IN go to this link:

Aside from helping my neighbors, what benefit do I get from volunteering to help the Health Department? As a volunteer, you and your family would get any medication or vaccination we are about to distribute before the general population.

What would my working conditions be like? With the exception of the volunteers who are directing traffic, you would be working inside a building, generally sitting at a table and talking to other citizens, answering their questions and providing them with information. There are a lot of variables as to how the Points of Dispensing (POD) would be operated, but the most intense demand is 48 hours straight of operations, divided into 12 hour shifts. If 12 hours is more than you feel like you can give at one time, please let us know on your registration form, and we will work with you to allow you to work a 6 or 8 hour shift.

What about eating? What about other breaks? I cannot work for 12 hours straight. We understand that, and are prepared for that. We have arrangements with other organizations within the County which will provide food for our workers in times of a disaster. We will also insure all of our workers get regular breaks.


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