Public Health Exercise Series Prepares Prince George’s County for Medical Countermeasure Distribution
Testing Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) Plans, the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) today completed a series of three exercises for the Prince George’s County Health Department (PGCHD). Public health stakeholders and first responders simulated the activation and coordination necessary to ensure that the County can respond to a biological attack, such as smallpox or aerosolized anthrax, affecting a vast majority of the population.
The series began April 7th with a tabletop exercise to stimulate the high-level decisions that PGCHD Leadership would need to make to activate its CRI plans and notify partners and community stakeholders. The second exercise on April 8th tested the ability to dispense simulated medication from a Closed Point of Dispensing (POD) site to the County’s Police, Fire, Emergency Management, and Health Departments.
The third and final exercise, held today at Largo High School, was a full-scale field exercise in which the County activated and operated an Open POD. Over 200 county employees and volunteers participated in the exercise, which included set-up of supplies, assignment of roles and responsibilities, and the operational management needed to effectively dispense mass amounts of medication to the Prince George’s County population using POD sites.
Under a year-long contract with PGCHD that includes a full-time analyst, CHHS is supporting the County’s Public Health Preparedness and Response Program. The CHHS Exercise and Training team developed, facilitated, and evaluated the exercise series together with PGCHD public health leaders, as well as representatives from the Prince George’s County Police Department, Office of Emergency Management, Office of Central Services, and the Fire Department.
Past clients utilizing CHHS training and exercise expertise have included local governments across Maryland and the State’s Emergency Management Agency, as well as colleges, hospitals, and the D.C Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. CHHS also offers planning services in continuity of operations, critical infrastructure protection, interoperability, mass evacuation and sheltering, and resource management. Numerous public health organizations have also sought out CHHS expertise on issues such as medical surge planning, legal issues surrounding public health emergencies, and hospital preparedness and response.