H1N1 Tops Illinois Preparedness Summit's Concerns

The July 15 event in Oak Brook was co-sponsored by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Public Health Association.

The H1N1 flu pandemic got top billing July 15 at the 2009 Illinois Public Health Emergency Preparedness Summit in Oak Brook. Titled "Strengthening Illinois Through Community Engagement," the summit was a chance to share ideas and best practices for public health emergencies, natural disasters, environmental incidents, or terrorist attacks. The Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Public Health Association co-sponsored the event.

"Public health emergency preparedness is one of the state's top priorities, and our years of preparing for pandemic influenza have helped us reduce the impacts of the novel H1N1 influenza virus in Illinois," said Dr. Damon T. Arnold, director of IDPH. "It is imperative we join together as a unified community to prepare our state in the event of a natural disaster or public health threat. This annual summit is an opportunity for public health professionals involved in emergency preparedness, planning, and response to work together to better protect the health and safety of the citizens of Illinois."

Keynote speakers included Capt. Al Haynes, pilot of United Airlines flight 232 that successfully landed, with 184 survivors, on July 19, 1989, after two engines failed; Time magazine reporter Amanda Ripley, who covered hurricanes Katrina and Rita from New Orleans and wrote a book titled "The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes -– and Why"; and Richard Sheirer, who was director of New York City's Office of Emergency Management starting in February 2000 and through the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center.

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