The Newtown Health District is participating in a statewide drill on April 24 that will simulate a mass casualty outbreak to gauge the ease in which emergency response medications can be distributed. District Director Donna Culbert said she has been working with state and regional officials preparing for the drill for several weeks.
The drill will require a state Department of Health vehicle being escorted by State Police to stage briefly at Newtown High School sometime Thursday.
“The state created a scenario for us and plan to drive pallets of (supplies) to our distribution center – which is the high school – and we will be there to receive it,” she said. “We will be among dozens of drop off sites – all the 32 hospitals and more than 75 dispensing sites will be receiving pallets during the drill.”
There are also a number of health agencies setting up mock dispensary clinics, but Newtown will not be participating in that level exercise Ms Culbert said.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), in conjunction with other state partners, will conduct the full-scale exercise to test the state’s ability to obtain emergency medical supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Managed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the SNS Program has large quantities of medicine and medical supplies to protect the American public if there is a large-scale health emergency or disaster, such as a disease outbreak like pandemic flu or a terrorist attack severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.
The program provides an initial delivery of supplies to the state within 12 hours of a request from the state. SNS supplies are stored in strategic locations around the country to ensure rapid delivery to any location. In Connecticut, the Department of Public Health (DPH) receives the delivery and then arranges for supplies to be transported to the affected areas.
As part of the exercise, DPH will open a warehouse in Bloomfield to receive and deliver simulated supplies. These supplies will be delivered by truck via a police escort to the warehouse for receipt, storage, and staging of the supplies.
In a real emergency, medications and other supplies would be delivered from these locations to predetermined points of dispensing where people would go to receive required medication.
Agencies and organizations participating in the exercise include the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Connecticut Military Department, Connecticut State Police, Department of Corrections, local health departments, and acute care hospitals.