Recent reports of a new SARS-like virus reinforce the importance of training and exercises for rapidly distributing vaccines or other medications to large groups of people.
TEEX recently facilitated and evaluated a Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Exercise at the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo (PSJA) High School in Pharr, Texas. The mission of the Strategic National Stockpile Program is to ensure the availability and rapid deployment of life-saving pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and equipment necessary to counter the effect of biological, chemical, nerve agents and in naturally occurring disasters like public health pandemics, said Gary Meaney, Training Manager with TEEX Emergency Services Training Institute. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) require such exercises be held every five years, he added.
This exercise tested the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department’s (HCHHSD) local SNS plan. Performance measures tested included notification, activation, staffing, training and assembly of personnel and equipment to be operational within a targeted timeframe.
This exercise utilized a unique software and a scanning process developed by the Hidalgo County Health and Human Services Department which captures in real-time a person’s arrival, registration, dispensing of medication and departure from the Point of Dispensing (POD) facility. While the department’s SNS plan for the Point of Dispensing site called for registering and dispensing medication to 500 people per hour (the CDC standard), they successfully processed 780 people in an hour, Meaney said.
Additional exercise participants included Valley Grande Institute, RGV Careers, and South Texas College, Texas Military Forces, Texas National Guard, Hidalgo County Emergency Management and Safety, and University of Texas-Pan American.