August 11, 2004
HONOLULU— The Hawaii State Department of Health is conducting an emergency preparedness exercise to test the State’s response to a bioterrorism event. A key component of this drill is a mass medication clinic being held at the Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall.
Up to 1,000 community volunteers will act as patients and attend the clinic to receive antibiotics as treatment for exposure to a bioterrorism agent. The clinic exercise is designed to distribute medication as rapidly as possible. Actors will role-play a broad cross-section of Hawaii’s population, including those with serious health issues, physical limitations and those needing social service or language assistance.
State and local partners will practice dispensing the contents of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS). The SNS is a cache of antibiotics and medical supplies controlled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is available for deployment anywhere in the United States or U.S. Territories to assist in a public health emergency.
“During a public health emergency, local medical supplies could become depleted,” said Chiyome Leinaala Fukino, M.D., Director of Health. “It is vitally important that we test our supply lines – how we request, receive and distribute federal medical assets from the CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile.”
Hawaii was one of only 10 jurisdictions selected this year to receive the Training, Education and Demonstration (TED) package from CDC. The TED is a small training version of an actual SNS shipment, containing simulated antibiotics, vaccines, antidotes and other medical supplies. Hawaii was selected to receive the TED Package because of the State’s high level of disaster preparedness and having response plans and personnel already in place.
“The fact that we were able to secure the TED is an acknowledgement of all the hard work local public health and emergency management personnel have put forth,” said Paul Effler, State Epidemiologist, Hawaii State Department of Health. “We are making the most of this valuable opportunity, testing many facets of our response plan, the most visible of which is the ability to get needed medicine into the hands of people not only here but also on the neighbor islands.”
Maui will hold a mass medication clinic Thursday. Neighbor Island deployment will test transportation, security and warehousing ability. Maui will also do a test of an innovative triage strategy. Initial screening and evaluation of patients will be done before “patients” leave their cars. During a public health emergency involving a communicable illness, this procedure could reduce transmission of the disease.
“It’s critical that the state, counties, military and private sector emergency responders are fully prepared to mobilize in a timely and coordinated manner in the event of a real public health crisis or terrorist attack,” said Governor Linda Lingle. “This week’s exercise is allowing the administration and our Civil Defense partners to evaluate our ongoing response efforts. Using what we learned during this exercise, we are confident we will be prepared in the event of an actual emergency.”
While the medication clinics are focal points of the preparedness exercise, other areas also being tested include: procedures for receiving and warehousing the stockpile assets, operational plans for the DOH Emergency Operation Center and the establishment of a Joint Information Center.
For more information on the Strategic National Stockpile and disaster preparedness, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site at www.bt.cdc.gov.
For More Information Contact:
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418
Cell: (808) 368-6109
Office of the Governor
Phone: (808) 586-0043
Cell: (808) 382-7023