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Australia Checks Preparedness For A Pandemic Influenza Outbreak

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Australia's preparedness for pandemic

On Monday, 16th October 2006, Australia's health and emergency services will begin to participate in the largest health exercise ever held in this country to test our preparedness for a pandemic influenza outbreak.

Exercise Cumpston 06 will be held over four days from 16-19 October 2006 and will focus on the health responses set out in the revised Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza. The Commonwealth Government has allocated $4.1 million for the exercise. All states and territories will be involved.

Around 1,000 people across Australia will participate in the Exercise and it will be viewed by 55 international observers.

The Exercise is designed to assess Australia's border control, quarantine and disease management strategies, national and local disease surveillance and response policies, decision-making structures, coordination mechanisms and public communications strategies as outlined in the Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza.

The Exercise is named after Dr John Howard Lidgett Cumpston, the first head of the Commonwealth Health Department, and the man who determined during the devastating 1918-19 influenza pandemic that by applying strategic quarantine and social distancing measures, the spread of disease can be substantially reduced.

For more information, go to www.health.gov.au/pandemic - then go to Exercise Cumpston 06 webpages.

Exercise Roles And Terminology

The very nature and scope of Exercise Cumpston 06 will require the involvement of scores of people to control and facilitate play throughout the Exercise, as well as those who participate over the four days of the scenario.

The following seven groups of people to be engaged during Exercise Cumpston 06 are vital to the running of the Exercise and ultimately to its success.

National Exercise Control

A National Exercise Control (NEC) Room will be established in Scarborough House, Woden ACT. The Exercise Executive Director will be located here, along with the Chief Controller, Exercise Controllers, Chief Evaluator, and representatives of jurisdictions, national government and non-government agencies.

Exercise Controllers. The primary role of Exercise Controllers is to:

  • Direct and monitor the conduct of the Exercise

  • Communicate with participating government and non-government agencies and jurisdictions

  • Take corrective action (such as injecting new events) if the Exercise flow deviates (unacceptably) from the Master Events Schedule

Jurisdictional Representatives. The role of jurisdictional representatives is to provide a primary point of contact between Exercise Control and the activities taking place in the states and territories.

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Exercise Participants

Exercise Participants are those people who will be mobilised during the Exercise to respond to events in accordance with the Exercise scenario. Participants will be working from designated incident rooms/operations centres or their normal places of work.

Exercise Facilitators

Head Facilitators will be located in each jurisdiction to coordinate a team of Facilitators. A Facilitator will be required at all locations to be activated during the exercise. These could include operations centres, incident rooms, and venues for management and committee meetings.

The primary role of Exercise Facilitators is to:

  • Provide Exercise inputs

  • Monitor the progress of the Exercise

  • Ensure actions expected from the exercise inputs are completed

  • Solve problems in the conduct of the exercise

Exercise Evaluators

Head Evaluators will be located in each jurisdiction to coordinate a team of Evaluators. An Evaluator will also be required at all locations to be activated. In some cases, the Facilitator will also perform the role of the Evaluator. The primary role of Exercise Evaluators is to:

  • Observe exercise play

  • Note actions taken against expected actions

  • Evaluate arrangements based on these actions

Role Players

Role Players will be engaged to help create realism in certain situations (e.g. as patients presenting to an Assessment Centre) or by phoning Exercise Participants about scripted Exercise issues.

Exercise Observers

An Exercise Observer Program has been established to enable key national and international agencies to share the Exercise Cumpston 06 experience. Up to 55 representatives from organisations such as the United Nations, World Health Organisation and Asia