CNMI Conducts 3-Day Pandemic Influenza Response Exercise

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Simulations on pharmaceuticals, supplies distribution completed

By Jayson Camacho

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Feb. 6, 2015) – A three-day full-scale exercise that tested local capabilities in response to a virus outbreak ended yesterday afternoon, with many of the participants describing it as a successful undertaking.

Today, Feb. 6, will focus on what problems were captured during the first ever pandemic influenza exercise and what needs to be done in the future.

The exercise, which began on Feb. 3, was called Strategic National Stockpile/Receiving Staging Storing/Medical Countermeasures Pandemic Influenza Full Scale Exercise and was intended to train participants on rapid access to large quantities of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies that need to be distributed appropriately.

The first day of the exercise focused on bringing the medical supplies or SNS to its target location. The second day consisted of handpicking the medical supplies for distribution to the three populated islands in the CNMI. The third day was a frontal and tabletop exercise where citizens were to enter the location for screening and treatment.

Securing and transferring

On Feb. 3, the exercise started out with determining life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and maintaining it.

This required stakeholders to determine and plan out how they are going to transport these medical supplies safely to the distribution point.

The full-scale exercise had the participants retrieving the medical supplies from the airport and transporting it to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. medical supply storage in Lower Base, for later distribution on Saipan, Rota, and Tinian.

The command center was situated at the Fiesta Resort and Spa’s Hibiscus Hall.

Transfer and deploying

The simulation on the second day—Feb. 4—didn’t go through due to logistical errors, but major discussions and simulations were played out in identifying on handpicking the medical supplies to be distributed to Tinian and Rota.

The discussions identified the distribution of the medical supplies to the two islands by air, carrier, and Department of Public Safety’s Boating Safety.

Full-frontal exercise

Yesterday morning, the distribution to Rota and Tinian went according to plan. According to CHCC Public Health-Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program director Warren Villagomez, they were able to facilitate the distribution to the two islands.

Before lunch, a simulation through the phone verified that the packages on Rota and Tinian have been distributed.

After lunch, stakeholders played out a simulation of members of the public entering the site to be screened, checked, vaccinated, and provided with all necessary medical attention.

The entire Hibiscus Hall was simulated as the main backdrop of an emergency location that citizens would eventually have to go through.

Ups and downs

Tara Brown, project officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Division of State and Local Readiness-Office of Public Health and Preparedness and Response, said that all exercise participants "did good."

"Overall the entire exercise was good, but as what I have been saying the entire week, the purpose of the exercise was to see where you needed to make modifications," Brown said.

"On the process and screening area, the flaws were that people coming through had fever or pneumonia and they sent them to the table to get shots and the nurses didn’t catch that, and you need to send them for assessment," she said.

Brown pointed out that people need to feel secure during assessment and that people may encounter different languages during this type of emergencies.

NMC nursing student Jun Cha Seung said it was great experience as it taught them what to do in case of an emergency like this.

Carl Haddon, On Scene Training Associates LLC director and instructor, congratulated everyone, including the security, doctors, and those registering and monitoring.

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