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Ripon adopts pandemic response plan
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RIPON – When the San Joaquin County Public Health Agencies held a meeting more than two years ago to talk about how to prevent a flu pandemic, Ripon Police Chief Richard Bull and Sergeant Don Luthey paid attention.

While the Avian Flu that was causing the scare at the time has since subsided, Bull made sure that Luthey – who has become the department’s pointman for issues involving the Office of Emergency Services – stayed on top of the issue in the interest of protecting the 15,000 residents of Ripon.

And they’re looking like geniuses right now.

Tuesday night the Ripon City Council approved a disaster management and mass-dispensing plan that will outline the protocol for the inoculation of all residents if a pandemic were to break out.

Bull admits that the timing with the recent string of swine flu helps exacerbate the importance of such an issue, but notes that the proposal took two hard years of work by Luthey to bring to fruition and will likely be necessary at some point in the future.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the swine flu that’s going around right now, but all of the health agencies are pretty certain that some sort of pandemic is going to happen in the future,” Bull said. “Our job at the Ripon Police Department is to protect and serve, and by doing this we’re taking a step in protecting our residents in case of an outbreak.”

Just recently President Obama declared the swine flu situation a state of emergency to allow the release of millions of doses of Tamiflu to be distributed throughout the country in event that the pandemic fear becomes real.

According to Bull, the Ripon Police Department has the only operational pandemic flu trailer in San Joaquin County at the time, and is the only city to adopt such a protocol at the current time – something he says is of the utmost importance to preserve the health of those who call Ripon home.

“This is something that can literally be a matter of life and death, and while we don’t want to panic anybody, we want to make sure that we’re prepared for the worst-case scenario,” Bull said. “If inoculation were to be called for, we’d be charged with providing escort to the storage facility and providing security on the transport back to the site where the drugs would be administered.

“In times of extreme fear people will do just about anything if they think that their life is on the line, and we need to make sure that we preserve some sense of order.”

Bull also praised the work that Luthey has done on the preparedness plan – noting he’s done a “yeoman’s job” with handling the task. Luthey was also presented with a proclamation from the Ripon City Council for his work on the issue.