Madison, Wis. -- A team of environmental health specialists deployed by the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS) is now assisting the state of Wisconsin with flood-related public-health issues, disaster recovery officials announced today.
"The USPHS team is here to support long-term community recovery," said Wisconsin Emergency Management Administrator Johnnie Smith.? "They will be helping state and local public health departments identify and treat wells and drinking water contaminated by recent flooding."?
The environmental health specialists are members of the USPHS Commissioned Corps, a noncombatant uniformed service.? They are conducting house-to-house assessments to determine health-related issues caused by flood and water damage to homes and drinking-water sources.? The team has been working in Rock Jefferson, Iowa, Sauk and Dodge counties to ensure drinking water safety.
To date, the team has performed 696 home visits, collected 114 water samples, disinfected 36 wells, provided water sampling kits with instruction on correct water sampling procedures to 450 homes, completed 73 Emergency Public Information flood damage and public health assessments, and completed 214 Environmental Health Assessments.
"Residents should not be alarmed or concerned when a USPHS team member wearing a khaki or camouflage uniform comes to their doors," said Dolph Diemont, federal coordinating officer for Wisconsin disaster recovery.? "They're not there on military business of any sort.? They're there to make sure your water is safe to drink."
USPHS traces its origin to a law signed by President John Adams in 1798 for the relief of sick and disabled seamen. This led to the establishment of a network of marine hospitals (see www.usphs.gov) staffed by uniformed health professionals. Today, as one of America's seven uniformed services, the Commissioned Corps fills essential public health leadership and service roles within the Nation's Federal Government agencies and programs. The Corps is comprised of more than 6,000 active duty officers and nearly 4000 inactive reserve officers dedicated to improving the quality of public health for communities most in need. It has officers representing many professions: physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, dietitian, engineer, environmental health officer, mental health specialist, health services officer, scientist/researcher, therapist and veterinarian.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.