POD Drill a success in one small W.Va. town
Boone County Health Department calls Point-of-Dispensing Drill a “success”
Drill helps prepare community for a bio-terrorism attack
Coal Valley News
Tuesday, June 16, 2009 - 5:00pm
Knowing how quickly Boone County’s emergency volunteer responders can react during Biological warfare, or a ‘bio-terrorism’ attack was the driving force behind this week’s Point of Dispensing drill. The Boone County Health Department alerted county volunteers through phone and email messages and asked them to report for a “test” at Scott high school, reported to be one of several places that the health department has identified or has agreements to use during emergency events should they be needed. According to Julie Miller, Boone County Health Department Administrator, “Many, many hours of work have gone into the planning and preparedness steps to enable our health department to respond to such incidents. However, without our volunteers, this planning can’t work.” Volunteers of all ages began arriving at the school in the early morning hours this past Friday, June 12. The volunteers’ level of medical expertise ranged from no experience at all to medical specialists with decades of training and experience. “The volunteer as a community resource can’t be stressed enough! Both our medical and non-medical staff are critical to our response team’s success. Our ability to rapidly and effectively protect our community during times of emergency is very dependent upon the willingness and the skills that our volunteers bring to the table when we ask them to respond,” Miller stated. The exercise was designed to test the ability of each of the participating counties to be able to alert their volunteers, quickly set up community dispensing facilities and be able to medicate their populations within a short response time. “We are here today to practice a drill in the event that the entire county would have to be medicated quickly and efficiently,” Miller told the assembled volunteers in the Scott high school cafeteria. The drill itself was based on a fictitious scenario that during a boys and girls basketball tournament in Charleston, attended by 200,000 fans, anthrax was released in the crowd. Based on that scenario, the group of volunteers were broken into groups beginning with a triage, greeters, line assistants, registration clerks, medical review clerks, pharmacy, a special needs dispensing area, incident command, safety, security, inventory supply, and runners. Then, came the “patients” – men, women and children of all ages, who role-played for the MRC team. This reporter went from being a 46-year old person experiencing symptoms of anthrax exposure to a 26-year old mother with no symptoms. The more people coming through, the better, as it gives the medical volunteers practice in dealing with a crowd in stressful situations, said Mike Vickers, of the Boone County Health Department. The drill is part of the Cities Readiness Initiative, which is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Division of Threat Preparedness, which administers the state’s CRI program, also participating as the state’s “health command” to support and coordinate the response. The Boone County MRC were also evaluated by three evaluators from three other county health departments – Fayette, Mason and Harrison Counties. Boone County was one of seven county health departments participating in the drill, scheduled throughout the state June 11-12. ”This has worked out well and we’ve had the right amount of volunteers. I’d have to say it has been a success for far,” Vickers told the Coal Valley News. To help in Boone County as a volunteer contact Lisa Holstein at the Boone County Health Department at 304-369-7967.