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Tulsa Health Department to Conduct Emergency Preparedness Full-Scale Exercise

Tulsa Health Department to Conduct Emergency Preparedness Full-Scale Exercise

TULSA, OK - [May 25, 2016] – The Tulsa Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Program will conduct a full-scale exercise on May 25-26. The exercise is intended to test the agency’s plan for the rapid distribution and dispensing of medication and medical supplies to protect residents if there is a public health emergency in Tulsa County. This could include antibiotics, vaccines, antivirals, or other medication depending on a potential or actual exposure to an infectious agent.

Nearly 30 community partner agencies will participate in the Tulsa Health Department-led exercise, including representatives from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, local police and fire departments, public schools and hospitals.

Exercise participants will be tasked with the establishment of four Point of Dispensing (POD) sites. A POD is a place where residents can obtain medications or vaccines during a public health emergency. The goal of the POD is to make sure that anyone that needs medication can get it. A POD location is usually in a large public building like a local school or community center.

Volunteers will act as community members going through the POD from start to finish – from arrival and check-in, to triage, to receiving their medication and instructions, to exit.

“This full-scale exercise will be as close to the real thing as possible,” said Brenda Dale, THD emergency preparedness and response program manager. “As the agency charged with addressing public health concerns within Tulsa County, THD must be prepared to take immediate steps to ensure public safety from diseases and other health threats. Preparedness starts with having a plan, but it’s critical to regularly test and evaluate the plan so everyone is prepared in the event of a real emergency.”

THD is one of 35 health departments across the state required to have a MIPS plan for their community, to ensure all Oklahomans are covered under the statewide plan for dispensing resources from the CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The SNS is a national repository of antibiotics, chemical antidotes, antitoxins, life-support medications, IV administration, airway maintenance supplies, and medical/surgical items. The SNS is designed to supplement and re-supply state and local public health agencies in the event of a national emergency anywhere and at any time within the U.S. or its territories, such as vaccinations for small pox or pandemic flu and oral medications for biological outbreaks, chemical releases, or dirty bomb detonation. 

Strategic National Stockpile
The SNS program is committed to having resources delivered anywhere in the U.S. or its territories within 12 hours of a federal decision to deploy. The pre-packaged resources have been configured to be immediately loaded onto either trucks or commercial cargo aircraft for the most rapid transportation to state and local authorities at top-secret receiving and storage sites.

The decision to deploy SNS assets may be based on evidence showing the overt release of an agent that might adversely affect public health. It is more likely, however, that subtle indicators, such as unusual morbidity and/or mortality identified through the nation's disease outbreak surveillance and epidemiology network, will alert health officials to the possibility (and confirmation) of a biological or chemical incident or a national emergency. To receive SNS assets, the affected state's governor's office will directly request the deployment of the SNS assets from the CDC or Department of Health and Human Services. CDC, HHS and other federal officials will evaluate the situation and determine a prompt course of action.

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