Participate In Rhode Island Wide Health Emergency Exercise

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On March 20 and 21, 2009, the State of Rhode Island will conduct an exercise simulating a response to a statewide public health emergency. The purpose of the exercise is to allow responsible state and local agencies to test their ability to bring together resources, receive and distribute materiel from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), activate Point of Dispensing (POD) sites, and distribute medications to the population as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Coordinating agencies include the Office of the Governor, Department of Health, Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA), Rhode Island State Police and the Mental Health Retardation & Hospitals (MHRH).

In addition, 10 communities and 11 hospital and treatment centers will participate in the exercise by opening and managing POD centers, which would be used to distribute medications or provide vaccine to the population. (Hospital and treatment center sites are for staff only.)

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“By engaging in real-time exercise, we improve our preparedness to protect our citizens should we ever be faced with a real public health emergency,” said Governor Donald L. Carcieri.

State and local response agencies and volunteer organizations, integral to the preparation and execution of PODs, were involved in the planning of the exercise. During the exercise, they will perform their respective roles as they would during an actual emergency.

The public is encouraged to participate in the exercise. To participate, people should show up at their local POD site between 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 21st. Individuals will receive a briefing on the simulated public health threat and receive life-saving medications. Participation should take no more than 20 minutes. Following the exercise, anyone interested in assisting at their community POD in the future should contact their municipal EMA Director. Those interested in participating who require additional information, should call their local EMA office.

“The best way for us to test ourselves is to simulate a real life situation, and public participation is critical to our success,” continued Carcieri. “In addition, this exercise will prepare the public should we ever be faced with a emergency of this scale.”

Funding for municipalities to develop and revise their POD plans and conduct these exercises is provided by the RI Department of Health (HEALTH) utilizing federal funding from the CDC under the Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) program.

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