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February 8, 2010

Madison County’s safety efforts recognized by WHO

The World Health Organization has designated Madison County as an International Safe Community, based on collaborative efforts to keep citizens safe.

WHO, the public health arm of the United Nations, notified Madison County Judge/Executive Kent Clark and Lloyd Jordison, director of the Madison County Safety Coalition, last month of its decision.

Madison is one of no more than 10 counties in the United States, and the first in Kentucky, to receive the designation.

The Safe Community label indicates that “Madison County has acquired the capacity to take thoughtful and strategic action to reduce the frequency and severity of injuries … and add value to the life of every one of its citizens,” stated Paul Kells, WHO’s Safe Communities chief for North America in a letter to Clark.

Representatives of WHO’s North American office in Canada visited Madison County last year to get a look at a wide range of efforts coordinated by the coalition, Jordison told the county health board this past Wednesday.

WHO officials will be in Richmond March 23 to present the county with a certificate in a ceremony at Madison Central High School, Jordison said.

That is the same day the high school will stage its annual Ghost Out, a dramatic exercise in which students are randomly singled out by a figure dressed as the Grim Reaper and pronounced “dead” by Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison from injuries suffered in an alcohol-related automobile accident.

The Ghost Out, which is done at all local high schools, is one example of many collaborative efforts by local officials and groups, in this case, the school districts and the coroner’s office, coordinated by the coalition, Jordison said.

Such multiple and diverse partnerships and programs are a main criterion for the Safe Community designation, according to Kells’ letter.

“The work of the Madison County Safety Coalition has already saved and will continue to save lives,” he stated.

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