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What would happen if…?
Biohazard symbol

By Talia Gad

Whether it’s an earthquake, flooding, or bioterrorism, the Oregon Public Health Division is working to prepare for the next large-scale emergency. One planning challenge involves when and how to distribute supplies to public health partners, but it’s a challenge that has a solution.

It’s called the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), which is a repository of life-saving medications including antibiotics, chemical antidotes, antitoxins, vaccines, and antiviral drugs as well as other necessary materials – a stockpile that will supplement and re-supply agencies that deliver emergency care and support.

Planning, partnership and preparation

The role of the Oregon SNS Program is to coordinate these materials from the time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) brings them in to their distribution among counties, tribes and state agencies that need them.

To ensure the plans fluidity, the SNS Program along with statewide partners are conducting the PACE Setter Regional exercise, a three-day activity arranged throughout the Portland metropolitan region beginning May 21, 2013. Players include law enforcement, fire, medical, public health agencies, and several community organizations known collectively as Multi-agency Coordination Systems (or MACS).

“We are grateful for all the support and energy that our statewide partners bring to our emergency planning,” said Sonya Andron, Strategic National Stockpile coordinator. “Their continued engagement further prepares Oregon for any potential emergency.”

The details of the partnership and the exact nature of activity are under wraps for security reasons, but a partial and abridged list of goals for the exercise includes assessing the following:

  • Emergency response to impacted areas
  • Mobilization of critical resources and operation of structures
  • Capacity for triage and medical care, and the timeframe required
  • Communications devices and systems between partners
  • Delivery of public information
  • Security needs
  • Fatality services

“This exercise came out of a federal grant requirement by the CDC,” said Adrienne Donner, senior regional Cities Readiness Initiative coordinator and co-exercise director. “But we’re using it as a unique opportunity to go beyond public health to engage partners across disciplines throughout seven counties and two states.”

Expanding regional preparedness

The exercise will take place in Northwestern Oregon (Multnomah, Clackamas, Columbia, and Yamhill counties), and Southwest Washington (Clark and Skamania counties). It’s the first of its kind in the state, although other areas are encouraged to develop district-specific plans for coordinated strategies between local, tribal, state, service agencies, and businesses in the region.

For more information about the Center for Disease Control’s Division of Strategic National Stockpile, check out the CDC's SNS Program website or contact Adrienne Donner, senior regional Cities Readiness Initiative coordinator and co-exercise director or Sonya Andron, SNS Coordinator.

Related:

CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response Prevention Strategic National Stockpile

HSPR Bioterrorism Frequently Asked Questions

Portland Oregon Cities Readiness Initiative

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