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Examiner
  • In a public health emergency, are we ready?

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  • The Independence Health Department is one of many metropolitan communities that receive federal funding through the Cities Readiness Initiative. Through CRI, we have developed plans to respond to a large-scale bioterrorist event or pandemic by dispensing medicine to the entire population of an identified metropolitan statistical area within 48 hours.
    To ensure continued readiness, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conduct annual technical assistance reviews of local health department emergency plans. The Independence Health Department continues to be a leader in local public health emergency preparedness, as evident from the 100 percent we received at our most recent review.
    In the event of a bioterrorism attack or pandemic, the Health Department has plans of how to keep its citizens safe; this includes opening numerous Point of Dispensing sites around the city to dispense appropriate medication to all citizens. Some of these sites would be specifically designed as “drive-thru” clinics. This type of clinic is very efficient, as citizens are not required to exit their vehicles to receive medication.
    This year, Independence is hosting the Kansas City Metropolitan Regional Exercise that will test the regional capability of mass medication dispensing. This exercise includes participation from 17 metro area jurisdictions, and hopes to reach hundreds of people. The exercise will be held on Thursday at Fire Station 7, which is just south of Adventure Oasis Water Park at 2206 Hub Drive. During this exercise, the Health Department will be evaluating several functions of the emergency plan, including notification, alert and supply requests and transport; culminating with the delivery and dispensing of supplies.
    The department is seeking volunteers between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to act as recipients of mock medications in the dispensing process. This exercise has been designed as a drive-thru clinic, so volunteers must be in a vehicle to participate.
    Volunteers may pre-register online at https://www.dispenseassist.net/anthrax.html, once you have completed registration, click on “Get Voucher,” make sure to print this voucher and bring it signed and dated to the exercise on Thursday. Volunteer time should be less than 10 minutes. The first 100 volunteers will receive a gift card to a local restaurant and a free public health supply kit.
    For more information on Cities Readiness Initiative, the Strategic National Stockpile or bioterrorism attacks, please visit http://www.bt.cdc.gov/cri/. If you would like to learn more about the Health Department’s plans, or would like to volunteer for the regional exercise, please call 816-325-7185.
    Larry Jones, MPH, is the director of the Independence Health Department.
     
     
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