PODs allow small towns to prepare for bio-attack
Boone County Health Department preparing for a bio-terrorism attack through POD drill
Coal Valley News
Tuesday, June 9, 2009 - 5:00pm
Knowing how quickly Boone County’s emergency volunteer responders can react during Biological warfare, or a ‘bio-terrorism’ attack is the driving force behind this week’s Point of Dispensing drill. The Boone County Health Department will be altering volunteers and having them report to set up and test a community Point of Dispensing (POD) site at Scott High School. This is 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.” “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,” she stated. The exercise is 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. The Cities Readiness Initiative is a federally funded program through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control. This effort is designed to prepare major metropolitan areas to effectively respond to large scale biological events and emergences to enable them to plan to dispense antibiotics to their entire populations within 48 hours once the decision has been made to do so. The West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Division of Threat Preparedness, administers the state’s CRI program and will be participating as the state’s “health command” to support and coordinate the response. Participating local health departments will be using medical and non-medical volunteers to assist in a large-scale response drill. Volunteers are still needed to help in this vital community-wide effort. “Anyone that has an interest in being a part of their local health department’s response to these types of emergencies should contact the health department or go online to www.wvredi.org to register as a county health department volunteer,” according to Sebie Jenkins, coordinator of West Virginia REDI. Boone County will be one of seven county health departments participating in the drill, scheduled throughout the state on June 11-12. Men, women and children are encouraged to volunteer are needed to act as patients during the emergency Point of Dispensing Drill. The more people who participate in the drill as patients, the more accurate is the assessment of the county’s ability to respond to their respective communities. To help in Boone County as a volunteer or to volunteer just for the exercise activities, contact Lisa Holstein at the Boone County Health Department at 304-369-7967. Refreshments and door prizes will be available to those who participate in the POD drill this week at Scott High School.