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District 2 County Public Health on Board with Training Congregations to Assist During Emergencies
Three (3) LDS Congregations in Hall/Forsyth Counties are signing up to be trained as Point of Dispensing (POD) organizations to help distribute life-saving medications during catastrophes.
Last census data shows that there are more than 650k residents in 13 Counties within District 2's County Public Health region. In the event of a mass outbreak of disease or a bio-terrorist attack here in Metro-Atlanta - there is a great need for volunteers to help dispense life-saving antibiotics or medications within 48 hours or less. With only hundreds of Public Health employees to help make this happen-- it is a monumental task without the collective volunteers' help.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Sugar Hill Stake center hosted the first Hybrid POD training by the Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Public Health on January 28, 2018.
One of the 100+ attendees of that training was Derek Curtis – then a member of the Stake High Council of the Sugar Hill LDS Stake. Since his family lives in Gwinnett County but their congregation meets in Hall County – he was very interested in getting his congregation to also be trained as a POD, so his family, congregation and their neighbors can get the much needed medications – should a public health threat occur in Metro-Atlanta.
Now that Curtis has been recently called to serve as a Bishop (leader) of the Hamilton Mill Congregation – he has tasked his congregation's emergency preparedness coordinator, Tony Reilly - to team up with Noah's Ark and District 2 to set-up a POD training in the 4th Quarter of 2018.
Bishop Curtis states, "Our Church teaches us to be prepared for any emergency. By allowing our building to be used as a POD in an emergency situation where medications need to be distributed quickly, we will be prepared to not only be of service to the three (3) congregations that meet in our building, but also for the surrounding community in Hall County. We will be able to provide dozens of volunteers who will be able to mobilize quickly and help those in need."
Mark Palen, District 2 Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director and Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator said, "We welcome opportunities for volunteers to train with our public health employees. Being prepared for multiple contingencies can mitigate the effects of a disaster or emergency. Additional trained volunteers can strengthen our community resilience."
Another LDS congregation headed by Bishop Jared Damiano of the Laurel Springs Congregation is also eager to learn how they can be a POD-trained congregation in the Cumming, Forsyth county area.
The third LDS congregation willing to be a POD is the Gainesville Ward/Congregation located at Riverside Drive. Bishop Adam LeBlanc states, "We embrace the self-reliance principles taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hopefully, these principles do become a way of life so that we are all prepared to withstand difficulties and challenges such as natural disasters, illness, job loss and other unplanned events." LeBlanc continues, "We look forward to working with our members, as well as our fellow neighbors and communities."
Noah's Ark is also working with Gwinnett, Newton & Rockdale County Public Health to train three (3) LDS congregations in the Sugar Hill Stake of the LDS Church sometime in the 3rd & 4th Quarter of 2018.
Noah's Ark's motto is Love God. Serve Together. Its mission is to focus on local communities and invite leaders of churches, temples, synagogues and mosques to become partners and learn to work together - so they can help rescue their families and neighbors in the event of a disaster. To find out how to get your house of worship ready to recover against future public health safety threats, visit http://www.lovegodservetogether.org.