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MESSAGE FROM REGIONAL CLINIC COORDINATOR - Archive


 

April 2007

It has been 10 months since Mass Dispensing Area #31 (MDA #31 - Windsor and South Windsor) last published its newsletter and this has sparked a lot of questions regarding the continued existence of MDA #31, our planning efforts, volunteer recruitment and retention, and training.  In this letter, I’d like to address these questions and bring you up to date on our activities.

While we have not published the newsletter since June of 2006, MDA #31 planning efforts have been as active as ever.  In April of 2006, Laurie Gokey our Bioterrorism Coordinator since 2002 resigned to become a “full-time” grandmother to twin boys.  As most of you know, Laurie was instrumental in spearheading our planning and recruitment efforts and her knowledge, foresight, energy and enthusiasm made MDA #31 one of the leading mass dispensing areas in the state.  While she will be missed, we know that Laurie will bring to “grandmothering” the same energy that she brought to MDA #31.  The twins are fortunate to have such a caring grandmother and we send Laurie our thanks for a job well done.

In early October after an extensive search, we hired Brian Brown to be MDA #31’s Public Health Response Coordinator (note the title change).  Brian comes to us having knowledge of Windsor and South Windsor and with a professional background as a Paramedic with experience in emergency response.  This has allowed Brian to immediately begin directing our planning efforts.  Later in this Newsletter, Brian will introduce himself, give you contact information for reaching him, and describe in more detail upcoming planning activities.

However the time period between Laurie leaving and Brian coming on board plus some temporary vacancies in other key positions within the Windsor Health Department created a staffing problem.  That shortage in staffing coupled with our need to meet our Emergency Management contract deliverables required us to make some administrative decisions and the decision that was made was to temporarily cease publication of our monthly newsletter.  Now that we are again at full staffing level we will be resuming our Newsletter, but will publish it quarterly.

Over the last 10 months, the main focus per the deliverables as specified in our Bioterrorism contract has been on developing a plan for the management of pandemic influenza.  That plan was submitted to the State Department of Public Health on December 31, 2006 and our efforts now are to test and drill that plan and then to revise it based on information learned from our drills.  We will be conducting our own drill some time during the summer.  We will give you plenty of notice regarding that drill so that we can get as many volunteers to participate as possible.

Let me review for you the grants that we receive from the federal government.  All states in the country have been receiving a “Bioterrorism Planning Grants” since 2001, the purpose of which is to support efforts to develop response plans for bioterrorism and natural and man-made emergencies.  The states in turn have been awarding grant monies to MDAs to assist with local planning efforts.  Connecticut has grouped all municipalities into 42 MDAs each with a population of at least 50,000 people.  Windsor and South Windsor have been grouped into MDA #31.  The grant that we receive each year has specific deliverables that we must meet in order to satisfy the grant requirements.  The grant periods are for one year and run from August 31 through August 30 of each year.  This year’s grant requires us, among other things, to develop, drill, and revise a plan to manage a pandemic flu outbreak.  It also requires us to continue to recruit and train volunteers, develop a local Health Alert Network, participate in regional drills and planning efforts, and revise our Public Health Emergency Response Plan and our Smallpox Vaccination Plan.  All of these efforts are on-going.

Finally, all the planning in the world doesn’t mean a thing if we lack trained volunteers to carry out those plans.  You, our volunteers, are and will be the key to MDA #31’s ability to successfully respond to any emergency.  While planning for smallpox may seem like a distant possibility, planning for pandemic flu is not.  If history is any indicator, we are long overdue for a flu pandemic.  That’s why we are putting so much into our planning efforts and closely monitoring what is taking place in other areas of the world with regard to Avian Influenza.  For MDA #31 and all MDAs, volunteer recruitment, training, and drills will be a top priority over the next couple of years.  I thank you in advance for volunteering and for maintaining your interest in assisting Windsor and South Windsor.

 


June 20, 2006

It seems as if I start out every monthly Newsletter by describing a drill or exercise that staff and volunteers from MDA #31 have participated in, and this month will be no different.  On June 13, a small group of MDA #31 staff participated in an exercise conducted by Bradley International Airport designed to test its ability to deal with an incoming flight on which were persons exhibiting symptoms of a flu (a pandemic flu).  It’s not important that I describe the details of this particular exercise.  What is important are the general issues that we have learned about dealing with illness that impacts a large number of persons; the distribution of medications to large numbers of people in a relatively short time period; working with diverse responder groups that we have not had the occasion to work with previously; distributing medication to first responders, volunteers, and their families; etc.  We have learned many things that now need to be incorporated in our plans so that the residents of Windsor and South Windsor can receive medications quickly and efficiently.  Specifically, we’ve seen the importance of communications both within the clinic setting and between the clinic and outside state and local partners.  Just-in-time training is crucial and that training needs to include a picture of the entire clinic process from “why” the clinic is being conducted to “how” the clinic is organized.  Security of the clinic site and of the workers and medications within the facility is vitally important, but often taken for granted.  Addressing the physical, psychological, and social needs of special populations is often underestimated.  These are just a few of the factors that while addressed in the various plans, have fallen short when drills and exercises have been conducted.  By participating in the various drills, we’ve had the opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t. That’s why your participation and feedback on drills conducted by other municipalities is important to us.  Now we need to rewrite our plans and then drill those plans.  While it sounds simple, it isn’t.  What works for one municipality or clinic, may not work for others.

 


 

May 16, 2006

In this month’s letter, I want to mention two items of interest.  First, the past month has been extremely busy for all the Mass Dispensing Areas around the state.  From April 14 through April 20, the state of Connecticut undertook a drill to test its ability to receive the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) from the federal government and then repackage it and distribute it to seven Points of Distribution (PODs) around the state.  The seven PODs in turn tested their ability to receive the SNS from the state and then dispense medications to residents within their POD areas.

MDA #31 participated in the Manchester/Glastonbury POD on April 19 by supplying volunteers to act as patients and by participating on the team evaluating the POD.  However, MDA #31 took on one additional role during the six day period.  On April 18, MDA #31 assumed the role of a Regional Distribution Center (RDC) and tested the ability to distribute medications to first responders (police, fire, EMS) and their families.  This latter drill was planned by the Capitol Region Emergency Planning Committee (CREPC) and was designed to test a “push” model for dispensing medications that had never been tried before.  The “push” model is designed to get medications out to persons as compared to a “pull” model that has patients reporting to the clinic setting to receive their medications.

Both of these exercises – the POD in Manchester/Glastonbury and the RDC conducted here in Windsor, were successful and a great deal of valuable information was learned, information that can be applied to the various clinics that we may have to run in order to respond to emergency situations.  The lessons learned from the POD will be used by us to revise all aspects of our clinic plans.  The models tested during the RDC will be used to develop a model that may be used on a state-wide or national stage to get medications to first responders and their families.  We may even see this model being used to distribute medications to clinic volunteers and their families.

With regard to the second issue, this past month, Laurie Gokey, MDA #31s Public Health Preparedness Coordinator resigned to take on the full-time duties of “Grandma” for her daughter Kristin’s “two beautiful baby boys” who were born on April 15.  Laurie was our BT Coordinator for the past three years and was the driving force behind the tremendous success and favorable reputation that MDA #31 presently enjoys state-wide.  Most, if not all, of you know Laurie from her emails, educational seminars, and from this Newsletter.  I have had the pleasure of working with and learning from her as she has worked with local and state-wide committees and spearheaded the completion of the numerous deliverables required by the Public Health Preparedness grants.  Her enthusiasm, energy, organization, and, above all, sense of humor are infections and have made all of our tasks easier.  While she will be missed, Laurie will do a great job assisting Kristin and Bill in caring for William and Andrew.  We wish her the best of luck.

 


We Still Need Volunteers!

If you are receiving this newsletter by e-mail, it is not too late to participate in Connecticut’s Strategic National Stockpile Exercise.  As you are aware, the State of Connecticut in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is conducting a full scale functional exercise from April 17 thru April 20, 2006 to test the state’s ability to receive the Strategic National Stockpile (medications that target specific diseases) from the federal government, repackage those drugs, and distribute them to 7 Points of Dispensing (PODs) throughout Connecticut. 

WE NEED ADDITIONAL VOLUNTEERS TO PLAY THE ROLE OF “PATIENTS”.  If you have a few minutes on April 19th and are interested in seeing how a POD operates, we request that you attend the Glastonbury POD located at Smith Middle School on 216 Addison Road in Glastonbury, CT.  To exercise the SNS POD process properly, hundreds of people must pass through the POD. We are inviting you to volunteer to play the part of a ‘patient’ receiving ‘medication’ as part of this mock disaster. You can walk through the POD once or many times.

The more volunteers we have, the more realistic the exercise becomes, thereby helping us to evaluate the areas where improvement is required. In addition, the exercise provides an opportunity for MDA #31volunteers to see what public health responders/volunteers do at a POD.

Please consider participating in this important public health event. Thank you

Directions to Smith Middle School:  Take Route 291 towards Manchester.  Take the I-84 W exit toward I-384 / Hartford.  Take the Spencer St exit on the left toward Silver Lane.  Turn right onto Spencer St.  Spencer St becomes Silver Lane.  Turn left onto Oak St.  Oak St. becomes Addison Rd. 

POD hours of operation are from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM.



March 2006

As you are aware, the State of Connecticut in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta will be conducting a full scale functional exercise from April 17 thru April 20, 2006 to test the state’s ability to receive the Strategic National Stockpile (medications that target specific diseases) from the federal government, repackage those drugs, and distribute them to 7 Points of Distribution (PODs) throughout Connecticut.  The 7 PODs will test their ability to receive those drugs from the state and conduct a clinic at which those drugs will be distributed to members of the public.  The POD portion of the exercise will take place on April 19 and involves the following Health Departments: Ledgelight, Manchester/Glastonbury; Milford; New Britain; Northeast District; Pomperaug; and Westport/Weston.  Manchester/Glastonbury and New Britain are the departments that are in the Capitol Region.  MDA #31, Windsor and South Windsor will be assisting Manchester/Glastonbury and the Northeast District by supplying volunteers to act as patients at their clinics.  We still need volunteers to play patients at these PODs.  Please call 285-1964 if you would like to participate in this exercise.

What you may not know is that Capitol Region Emergency Planning Committee (CREPC) on its own has decided to test the ability to distribute medications to first responders (Police, Fire and EMS) and their families and to distribute these medications on April 18, the day before the POD exercise.  The timing of the distribution of medications to First Responders, i.e. prior to PODs being opened, is what would most likely take place in an actual event.  Also what you may not know is that the Windsor Health Department as the lead department for MDA #31 has volunteered to be the RDC (Regional Distribution Center) for the distribution of medications to First Responders and their families.  Thus, while the RDC that is setup will be located in Windsor, MDA #31 will actually be staffing the RDC. 

It has been decided by CREPC that to test the ability to distribute medications to first responders, only the first responders from the POD towns in the Capitol Region (Manchester, Glastonbury, and New Britain) and the two RDC first responder towns (South Windsor and Windsor), and the West Hartford Fire Department would be asked to participate.   Thus, a letter was sent from CREPC to the first responder contacts in each town asking for the voluntary participation of their members.  The towns’ Local Health Director has distributed Head of Household forms to the first responder agency contacts who will, in turn, distribute the forms to their first responders for completion.  First responders wishing to participate will be asked to fill out the Head of Household forms and return them to their agency contact who will give the forms to the Local Health Director.  The LHD will return the forms to CREPC by March 27 where they will be reviewed by members of the Connecticut Pharmacy Association (CPA) at which time specific medications will be designated for each responder and family member.  This information will be used when the RDC exercise begins.

This is the first time that an exercise designed to distribute medications to first responders and their families has been conducted in the state.  Thus it is an exciting time for MDA #31 and the first responders from our two towns to be participating.  The lessons learned from this exercise will not only be used to refine our planning process should we have to distribute medications for real, but will undoubtedly be used as a model for the distribution of medications to first responders statewide. 

 



February 2006

On April 19, 2006, Mass Dispensing Area (MDA) #31, along with other MDAs and the State of Connecticut, will participate in a statewide exercise designed to test the ability of Connecticut’s public health system to distribute medications from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) quickly and effectively in the event of a real emergency.

To exercise the system properly, hundreds of people must pass through seven (7) Points of Dispensing (PODs) clinics that will be set up across the state.  There are two POD locations that are close to the towns of Windsor and South Windsor.  The MDA #33 Manchester/Glastonbury POD will be held on April 19, 2006 from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Smith Middle School on 216 Addison Road in Glastonbury, CT. The MDA #41 POD will also be held on April 19, 2006 from 4:00 PM to 8:00PM at the Plainfield High School on 105 Putnam Road in the Central Village area of Plainfield, CT.  (Street Directions follow)

We invite you to volunteer on April 19th to play the part of ‘patients’ receiving ‘medication’ as part of this mock disaster. Volunteers will be given ‘scenarios’, and be asked to move through the line a number of times during a four-hour medication distribution portion of the exercise. Please note that no actual medications or vaccinations are being administered as part of this exercise.

The more volunteers we have, the more realistic the exercise becomes, thereby helping us to evaluate the areas where improvement is required. In addition, the exercise provides an opportunity for MDA #31volunteers to see what public health responders/volunteers do at a POD. Signing up is as easy as contacting our MDA #31 Volunteer Hotline at 285-1964. Please leave your name, your contact information, and the POD location at which you would like to volunteer.  Someone will return your call and answer any questions you might have.

Volunteers must be age 16 or older on or before April 19, 2006. A parent or legal guardian must accompany anyone under age 16.

Further, you will have to provide your own transportation to and from the POD.  We are suggesting that volunteers carpool to the POD to reduce the number of cars at the POD site and also because it will be fun to be part of a group of people. The more the merrier!!

Thank you for your ongoing support of MDA #31 and your anticipated participation in these valuable Public Health exercise.

Directions to Plainfield High School:  From the Route 6 East: Follow Route 6 to the intersection of Route 12 (near Big Y Supermarket in Danielson).  Follow  Route 12 South for approx. 4 miles.  Go straight at the intersection of Route 12 & 205.  Proceed approx. 1 mile.  Plainfield High School driveway is the first right after the Central Village” sign.  (Look for the Black Panther)  Proceed straight and follow signs for Main Entrance/Office.  Please enter the school through the upper parking lot (not the 1st student/bus entrance on left). 

Directions to Smith Middle School:  Take Route 291 towards Manchester.  Take the I-84 W exit toward I-384 / HARTFORD.  Take the SPENCER ST exit on the left toward SILVER LANE.  Turn right onto SPENCER ST.  SPENCER ST becomes SILVER LN.  Turn left onto OAK ST.  OAK ST becomes ADDISON RD.  Turn left to stay on ADDISON RD.

 


January 2006

With the start of a new year, a great deal of activity is taking place state-wide which is and will be impacting MDA #31.  Virtually all of this activity relates to drills and exercises and training.

 First, plans are well underway to test Connecticut’s ability to receive and distribute the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).  As stated in previous newsletters, the SNS is a federal resource which is capable to being distributed to any location nation-wide within hours of a request by that state, to respond to an outbreak of an unknown or known biologic agent.  On April 17, 18, and 19, the State of Connecticut will test their ability to receive the SNS and then repackage and distribute the SNS to 7 Points of Distribution (PODs).  One of the PODs participating in this drill will be in Manchester and MDA #31 will be participating to assist Manchester as they receive the SNS and then distribute medications to persons coming to their clinic.  That portion of the exercise should be on Wednesday, April 19, 2006.  More details will follow as we receive briefings from Manchester.

Second, Bradley International Airport (BDL) is developing plans to handle an incoming flight that has passengers who may have been exposed to a biologic agent or who are exhibiting symptoms of illness of concern.  The flight may either be an international or domestic flight.  The planning team consists of representatives of Bradley Airport Fire –Rescue, State Police, Customs and Boarder Patrol, Bradley Operations, the Capitol Region MMRS, CT 14th Civil Support Team, Civil Air Patrol, Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the State Department of Public Health, and local health departments (Windsor, Farmington Valley, and North Central).  A tabletop and a functional exercise are being planned for some time in May to test the ability of these multiple diverse groups to communicate with one another and to quarantine the passengers of such a flight should it become necessary.  More details will be available as the draft plan is finalized and as the exercises are developed.  Exactly what MDA #31’s role in this exercise might be is still unclear.  Given that a portion of Bradley Airport is in East Granby, Windsor Locks and Windsor, it is very likely that these three Health Departments will be participating in the exercise.

Third, the State Public Health Preparedness Planning Subcommittee is planning a statewide conference to be held in late May or early June to address “Recovery” efforts that need to implemented following a natural or man-made disaster.  Specifically, this half-day conference will have as its goal to 1) introduce the concept of “recovery”, i.e. what is meant by that term, and 2) to identify roles in Recovery Planning.  This conference may be relevant for first responders, emergency management, and town government personnel.  As with the first two items listed above, more information will follows as the conference agenda is finalized.

This is a very busy schedule and the above three drills, exercises and training conferences are what is on the schedule thus far.  In addition, we know that MDA #31 will be conducting an exercise that focuses on our specific response plans.  This exercise will most likely be conducted this summer.

 

 


 

December 2005


In April of 2006, the state of Connecticut will be participating in a full scale functional exercise designed to test the state’s readiness to respond to a major disaster that requires the mass dispensing of medication to local residents. Specifically, this exercise will test Connecticut’s Strategic National Stockpile Plan for Receipt and Distribution of Emergency Medical Supplies focusing on the state’s ability to receive medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS and then distribute these supplies to seven Points of Distribution (PODs) or local clinics.

In this exercise, the residents in the state will be threatened by a disease and the state, not having sufficient medications on hand to distribute to local communities or hospitals, will activate its SNS plan and request that Strategic National Stockpile send medications and medical supplies to the state for distribution. The State will receive these medications and medical supplies, repackage them, and then deliver them within six to eight hours to seven local health departments or districts scatter throughout the state. The seven local health departments participating in this exercise will activate their PODs or clinics, receive the medications from the state, and then distribute the medications to patients who will be coming through their clinics.

Manchester is one of the seven local health departments that will be a Point of Distribution. While Mass Dispensing Area #31 (Windsor and South Windsor) is not one of the PODs for this state-wide exercise, I have taken the liberty to volunteer MDA #31 to assist the Manchester Health Department in its function as one of the state’s seven PODs. I did this for two reasons. First, this exercise will take place during the week and therefore, schools are likely to be in session. Since our primary POD is the South Windsor High School, we would not be able to function as a POD without disrupting the school session. Second, MDA #31 has been and continues to be a very actively involved planning area. By participating in this exercise, the Area will obtain much needed knowledge and experience that can only assist us if we ever have to run our own clinic. In addition, we will receive credit towards this year’s bioterrorism grant contract deliverables.

Toward the end of February, we will be contacting our volunteers and requesting their assistance in this state-wide exercise. At that time, I will have more information to share with you as the drill scenario is finalized.
 


November 2005

The State of Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has been awarded funding by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) for year six for Bioterrorism Planning.  The purpose of this funding is to continue enhancing the States’ Bioterrorism response capacities.  DPH is issuing funding to the 47 full-time local health departments and health districts in the State of Connecticut to continue to assist these departments in developing the infrastructure needed to plan and prepare for Public Health Preparedness Planning.  The State has grouped municipalities throughout the state into 41 Mass Dispensing Areas and has assigned one full-time health department in each particular MDA to be the lead health department to oversee the bioterrorism planning for that area.  Windsor is the lead health department for Mass Dispensing Area #31 which includes the towns of Windsor and South Windsor and as such will be receiving $79,965.59 to oversee the planning efforts in MDA #31.

 While the Windsor Health Department is the lead health agency for MDA #31, it is the Planning Committee represented by clinic coordinators from both towns that has overseen and driven the planning efforts in our Area.  Some of the accomplishments achieved to date are the following:

·          Written  a Smallpox Vaccination Plan

·         Recruited a total of 511 volunteers and staff

·         Conducted four (4) Smallpox Mass Vaccination “Awareness” training sessions for MDA 31 volunteers resulting in 177 volunteers currently trained

·         Developed and maintains a database of contact information and training participation for all volunteers and staff

·         Conducted regional training of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Regional Incident Command System (ICS) training 32 persons

·         Developed and distributes a monthly newsletter for all MDA 31 volunteers, staff, and interested persons on activities of interest, training opportunities, and accomplishments

·         Conducted a Point of Distribution (POD) set-up drill for Smallpox

·         Participated in TOPOFF3 by conducting a call-out of all key clinic staff

·         Coordinated volunteers and participated in the Eastern Highland Health District POD drill of an Anthrax outbreak with 21 of our volunteers participating

·         Created the MDA31.org website, which is updated on a monthly basis, to keep volunteers, staff, and the public informed regarding all MDA 31 activities

·         Created and continues to expand the MDA 31 Health Alert Network (HAN) which uses multiple communications strategies to communicate quickly and consistently with staff, volunteers, and health professionals in our two towns

·         Purchased ancillary clinic supplies to support the first 48 hours of any clinic that we may be required to conduct.

 For the 2005-2006 grant year (August 31, 2005 through August 30, 2006), the following are just a few of the deliverables that MDA #31 will be required to deliver:

·         Continue to fund an Internet service provider for both towns and to obtain cellular phone service both of which will allow MDA #31 to be contacted quickly should an emergency occur

·         Attend regional meetings and collaborate with regional partners to develop and/or enhance quarantine and isolation, worker health and safety, and mass immunizations and prophylaxis

·         Continue to develop the local HAN and participate in training and testing of the portable MEDSAT satellite phones in each region

·         Conduct one or more drills with municipal emergency responders to test 1 or more set functions -- ICS Command and Control; Communications; Surveillance and Monitoring; and Chain of Custody Procedures; the local HAN

·         Participate in one functional exercise of the regional plan that tests Interoperability of Communications; Mass dispensing and vaccinations; ICS command and control; Communication networking; Information dissemination; Risk communications; Chain of Custody; Quarantine and Isolation

·         Participate in 1 full scale regional exercise of the regional plan testing a minimum of 4 designated components

·         Provide progress reports on the inclusion of 4 annexes – Smallpox, Anthrax, and Pandemic Influenza vaccination, and on Isolation and Quarantine -- into the jurisdictional plan

·         Continue to recruit volunteers to staff the various clinics that may be activated to respond to emergency events

·         Identify public health emergency response team members who need specific personal protective equipment, provide training to these members in the use of this equipment, and fit test these response team members.

 The above is just a portion of what MDA #31 will be required to achieve between now and August 30, 2006.  It will be a busy year.  But like previous grant years, MDA #31 will complete these deliverables and will continue to make a name for itself in the region and state.

 


 

October 2005

The heavy rains that the Northeast incurred over the past week culminating in a flood-filled weekend, points out dramatically four inescapable facts.  First, we are all vulnerable to the impact of “Mother Nature” and what on the surface may seem like a small event (rain) can become devastating in its impact when it continues for eight days straight.  We don’t know specifically what we might be faced with, thus we must be prepared for anything.  Second, planning is crucial. Whether it is a town’s Emergency Operations/All Hazards Plan or the Smallpox Mass Dispensing Plan, a plan indicates what functions agencies, departments, and individuals are expected to perform.  These various functions tie together like a giant puzzle leading to a successful response to the emergency.  Therefore, we all need to be familiar with what those plans say and what we as departments and individuals are expected to do.  Third, plans, by their nature, must be broad in scope in an attempt to account for anything that may occur.  Thus, agencies, departments, and individuals must be flexible and be prepared to adapt their responses based on the situation(s) that they are faced with.  Finally, when floods occur or when we are faced with a bioterrorist incident, that is not the time to look for and become familiar with a plan.  Familiarity comes from reading, understanding, and exercising plans.  Plans then get updated and revised based on the results of exercises.  The process must be continuous.

 

The four “inescapable facts” mentioned above are the basics of what MDA #31 is expected to emphasize over the next 11 months of this year’s Bioterrorism contract.  Planning, exercising, and training is our charge.  Our Emergency Operations/All Hazards plans, Smallpox Clinic plan, Anthrax Response plan, and Pandemic Influenza plan are the plans that we are expected to develop and/or revise.  We are expected to conduct table-top and functional drills and exercises to test segments of these plans.  Finally, we are expected to participate in various training so that we know how to perform the various functions that we are expected to carry out when an emergency occurs.

 

I know that it seems like we’re faced with a daunting task.  However, I’d point out two facts.  First, the cooperation and enthusiasm that MDA #31 has shown over the past three years has translated into a close-knit area that is ahead of most other areas in our planning, volunteer recruitment, and training.  Second, as a result of the above, when a natural or man-made emergency occurs, MDA #31 will be prepared.

 


 

September 2005

Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent response to it, has raised questions about the ability of local municipalities to respond if they are ever hit with a natural or man-made emergency of similar proportions.  Questions have ranged from do we have a plan? What is it? Do all emergency responders know what that plan is and what their specific responsibilities would be? Do we have facilities to shelter our entire populations and do those facilities have adequate supplies?  Do we have a communications system in place that will give us the ability to communicate both within and outside of our communities?  Do we have a contingency plan if the primary communication system fails?  Do we have sufficient professional and lay volunteers to assist in handling any emergency? and dozens of other questions.

Every municipality in the State of Connecticut is required to have an Emergency Operation Plan per Section 28-7(a) of Title 28, Chapter 517 of the Connecticut General Statutes.  Among other things, that plan outlines how a community will respond when an emergency arises and spells out community resources; the Incident Command Structure (ICS) in that community; mission assignments that individual departments are or will be responsible for undertaking; contact information; as well as how the plan will be activated, assistance requested, and emergencies declared.  A municipality’s EOP is the umbrella under which all other emergency plans that impact that community are contained.  For example, the “Airport Disaster Plan”, the “Regional Emergency Disaster Plan (RED Plan)”, the “Public Health Emergency Response Plan”, and the “Mass Vaccination Plan for Region #31” are all appendices within our individual community Emergency Operations Plans.  For example, each appendix of the EOP defines steps that need to be undertaken to address and mitigate a specific situation, such as establishing a Mass Dispensing site in response to an identified public health emergency.  However, each appendix is not a “silo” unto itself.  For economic and management reasons the plans share common resources.  For instance, the volunteers that have been recruited for MDA #31 are potential resources to assist in other types of emergencies in either town.   The communication structure being developed for MDA #31 will both call on and enhance the current communication capacity by providing redundancy of communication methods.  Maximizing the use of limited resources helps to insure that both towns are prepared.

In conclusion, there are a few basic points that should be remembered.  First, a major disaster similar to what hit our southern states can happen in Windsor and South Windsor or in the state or region so that Windsor and South Windsor are adversely impacted.  Hurricanes, ice storms, power outages, floods, hazardous materials incidents on our highways and railways, earthquakes, and even tornadoes (to name a few) are emergencies that we have experienced in the past and are real possibilities in the future.  Second, our communities must be prepared to stand on our own without state or federal assistance for 48 to 96 hours.  Third, our communities must be willing to assist each other if and when an emergency occurs.  Fourth, while plans are essential, those plans are useless unless they are drilled and exercised.  Emergency rescue workers, town and school departments, administrative and political leaders, and our volunteers must be familiar with their responsibilities and comfortable in knowing with whom they will be working.  Drilling and exercising our Mass Vaccination Plans will be an essential element during this present contract year.  Fifth, the planning and drilling process are on-going and will never end.  We must continue our planning process, constantly question our plans and processes, and learn from the experiences of others.  We then must update our plans and drill again.  Finally, planning and preparation for emergency events must begin in our own homes.  Later in this edition are suggestions that residents should undertake now to prepare themselves and their families for emergencies.  The time to prepare for an emergency is before the threat is real, not after it has occurred.

 

 


August 2005

The Bioterrorism Grant for 2004-2005 will draw to a close on August 30, 2005 and I am happy to report that Region #31 (Windsor and South Windsor) has met all of the deliverables required by the Grant.  We have done that with over 15 days to spare.  I want to thank everyone who has assisted in meeting those deliverables from residents who have registered as volunteers and undergone initial training; the various committees and sub-committees that have met throughout the year to plan and to address the various aspects of the grant; to South Windsor and Windsor staff who have given their time to attend meetings and work to meet the numerous deliverables.  I especially want to thank Laurie Gokey, our Bioterrorism Coordinator, who has worked tirelessly to oversee and drive the process.  Without her leadership, we could not have succeeded.  Above all, however, I want to express my gratitude to South Windsor and Windsor leadership, staff, and residents who have formed a close-knit team to address the overall planning effort.

The following are some of the things you have accomplished since we began the focus on Bioterrorism and smallpox:

·         Written a Smallpox Mass Vaccination Plan

·         Recruited 511 volunteers and staff

·         Developed and maintained a database of contact information and training participation for all MDA 31 volunteers and staff

·         Conducted four (4) Smallpox Mass Vaccination “Awareness” training sessions for MDA #31 resulting in 177 volunteers being trained

·         Conducted Regional Training of the “National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Regional Incident Command System (ICS) training 32 of our team

·         Since January 2005, developed and distributed to all our volunteers and staff a monthly newsletter designed to keep everyone informed of our activities

·         Conducted a “Point of Dispensing” (POD) set-up drill for Smallpox with key MDA #31 staff

·         Participated in TOPOFF3, an international BT exercise, by conducting a call-out of all key clinic staff and Windsor Emergency Management staff

·         Twenty-one (21) of our volunteers participated in the Eastern Highland Health District’s POD drill of an Anthrax outbreak (other than Eastern Highland, we had more people participate in this drill than any other organization)

·         Created the MDA31.org website, which is updated on a monthly basis, to keep MDA 31 volunteers, staff and the public informed of MDA #31 activities

·         Have created and are continuing to develop a local Health Alert Network (HAN) designed to quickly contact and inform medical professionals regarding emergency situations

·         Purchased MDA 31 ancillary supplies to cover the first 48 hours of any clinic activity.  Supplies include vaccination site station supplies, signs for the clinic, and supplies needed by the volunteers.

As one grant period ends, another will begin on August 31, 2005.  That new grant brings with it new deliverables that we will have to meet over the next two year period.  The new grant requires us to update plans, recruit and train volunteers, and purchase necessary clinic supplies.  The primary focus of the new grant will be to conduct and participate in drills designed to test regional and local emergency plans.  As we get into the new grant period, more will be said about these requirements.  Again, I want to thank everyone for their assistance and participation in the planning process.

 


 

July 2005

Dear Mass Dispensing Area 31 Volunteers,

I am writing to you to thank you, again, for volunteering to participate in the Region 31 (Windsor and South Windsor) Smallpox Mass Vaccination Clinic and to inform you of changes, actually an expansion, of the clinic process.

You were originally recruited to volunteer in a clinic that would provide Smallpox vaccinations to the entire population of Windsor and South Windsor in response to a bioterrorism event that resulted in a confirmed case of Smallpox. All our training to date has focused on this one threat. However, there are several different diseases that may require, at some point in time, that we protect the people of Windsor and South Windsor by providing them with antibiotics, or giving them a shot (flu) or vaccination. We will continue to rely on you, our volunteers, to help us protect the citizenry of Windsor and South Windsor. Therefore, we will be expanding our volunteer training to include response to diseases such as Anthrax and Pandemic Flu as well as Smallpox.

This expanded focus requires a name change. We will no longer be calling ourselves the Region 31 Mass Vaccination Clinic Volunteers. (That title was really too long to remember anyway.) We will be calling ourselves the Mass Dispensing Area 31 Volunteers.

In addition, the plans for Smallpox required that we have only one location or Point of Dispensing (POD) for conducting vaccinations. That was and is the South Windsor High School. In the expanded model we may need numerous PODs to insure that everyone receives antibiotics or flu shots in a timely fashion. Therefore, we will be looking for sites in the two towns that can be used as PODs should the need arise. As with Smallpox planning, we will keep you informed though the Mass Dispensing Area 31 e-mail or "snail" mail newsletter (formerly entitled Mass Vaccination Volunteer Preparedness News), by accessing the Region31.org Website (looking into changing to MDA31.org) and by periodic training sessions.

Charles J. Petrillo, Jr., Dr.PH

Mass Dispensing Area 31 Clinic Coordinator


 

June 2005

Dear Mass Dispensing Area 31 Volunteers,

 

With just two months remaining (August 30, 2005 deadline) in our 2004-2005 Bioterrorism Grant, our Regional Planning Team and the various sub-committees are working hard to meet all of our Grant deliverables. One of the main deliverables is to participate in drills and exercises and to this end, Region #31 will be participating in a Point of Distribution (POD) regional drill on June 23rd. This drill is being conducted by the Eastern Highlands Health District in Mansfield and will test setting up a POD and distributing medication to 500 people who "have been exposed to Anthrax". A number of our Regional #31 trained volunteers and coordinators will also participate as clinic coordinators, clinic volunteers, patients, and observers thus satisfying our deliverable for participating in a regional drill this grant year. Our goal in participating is to learn by observation so that we will be in a better position to conduct our own drill during the next grant year and to critique and revise our own mass vaccination clinic plan. I will have more to report on this in next month’s newsletter.

Another deliverable that we are about to meet is to submit information on our volunteer status to the State. This information will go into a state database (the PVS System) so that the state will have a listing of all volunteers recruited by the 42-smallpox regions statewide. This list will not only indicate all volunteers who have been recruited, but will indicate how many of those recruited have been trained. The PVS system will also allow us to more easily contact our volunteers if an emergency occurs. It also gives us the ability through the State, to call on volunteers from other regions should the emergency situation be local in nature (impacting only our region) and should we need assistance. The most important part of this volunteer system is to keep it up-to-date. That can only be done if volunteers notify us immediately as contact information (phone numbers and addresses) change. Please help us in this important endeavor.

The Planning Committee is finalizing the identification system that will be used to identify our volunteers. As has been indicated during our volunteer training sessions, our IDs will be the only way that volunteers will be able to access volunteer clinic parking and access the clinic itself. We’re hoping to have a decision on this ID system by September. Once the ID system has been finalized, all trained volunteers will receive their IDs.

Finally, summer is just a few days away and I want to take this opportunity to wish you a happy, healthy, and safe summer. While summer tends to be a time to relax, the Regional Planning Committee will continue working to complete the various aspects of our grant deliverables. During the summer, we will take the opportunity to continue to test our callout and notification procedure. Therefore, you may be contacted by us from time to time and asked to indicate your ability to respond should there be an emergency. Please forgive us in disrupting your summer, but at the same time, assist us in refining our notification procedure.

Charles J. Petrillo, Jr., Dr.PH

Regional Clinic Coordinator

 

 


 

May 2005

Dear Mass Dispensing Area 31 Volunteers,

 

For the past three years, planning for a smallpox mass vaccination clinic has been the main focus for national, state, and local bioterrorism planning. Smallpox was initially designated for planning efforts as it was felt that smallpox would be the most difficult bioterrorist disease to deal with from a preventive vaccination standpoint. For Planning Region #31, South Windsor and Windsor, a smallpox mass vaccination clinic plan has been develop and reviewed, volunteers have and are continuing to be recruited, and training has begun to mention but a few of the many activities accomplished by our region since 2002. That planning focus is now being expanded to include distribution of medications to address Anthrax and Pandemic Flu in addition to continuing to revise and refine the smallpox plan. As a result of this expanded focus, terminology has changed from "smallpox vaccination clinics" to "mass dispensing clinics". More will be said about this additional focus in future newsletters.

A term that you may have seen in national, state or local information sheets is the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS. This is a national program designed to deliver critical medical assets within twelve (12) hours of request to the site of a national emergency. The SNS is comprised of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical supplies and medical equipment stored in strategic locations throughout the United States and is composed of two elements. The first element is the "12-hour Push Package", "12" because it will arrive within 12 hours of a federal order to deploy and "push package" because it is sent directly to the area affected. This is a shipment of medical supplies that allow an area to respond to a broad range of threats when the threat is ill defined or not yet specifically known. The second element of the SNS is the "Vendor Managed Inventory" or VMI. The VMI is a government-owned inventory held at vendor warehouses throughout the United States. Should an event occur which exceeds the capacity of the 12-hour Push Package or if the threat is defined (i.e. the weapon used is known such as during the Anthrax crisis in 2001), the VMI will be shipped to provide a targeted response to a known event or weapon. In addition to the Push Package and VMI, the SNS Technical Advisory Response Unit or TARU will be deployed to the area to advise local authorities on receiving, distributing, dispensing, replenishing, and recovering SNS materials. The SNS system has been used a number of times over the past five years. In response to the events of 9/11, the TARU arrived within 5 hours and a Push Package arrived in New York City within 7 hours of the request by New York officials. The VMI began arriving within two hours of when the Push Package arrived. The SNS also responded to the Anthrax attacks of October 2001 and the hurricanes in Florida in 2004.

What does this all mean for Mass Dispensing Region #31? If a national or state-wide emergency occurs and a request has been made by state officials to activate the SNS, the Push Package will be delivered by the federal government to the state and the state will deliver the Push Package or VMI directly to Region #31, to a location previously designated by our region. Once that has occurred, our Mass Dispensing Clinic Plan is activated and we all swing into action to deliver the appropriate medications to our residents. We only need to know that the medications will arrive in the amounts needed, when needed.

Charles J. Petrillo., Dr.PH

Regional Clinic Coordinator

 


April  2005

Dear Mass Dispensing Area 31 Volunteers,

Planning activity for Region #31’s mass dispensing clinic is continuing to move forward. In March we conducted three very successful initial training sessions for non-medical volunteers training a total of 143 persons. These sessions were a success because of the participation of you our volunteers and because of the comments that we received from you regarding that training. Another initial training session for non-medical volunteers has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 1, 2005 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. While anyone is certainly welcome to attend, those who were unable to attend the March sessions will benefit from this training and should consider attending. Other sections of this Newsletter describe how one can register for this training.

The Region has also been testing parts of its Plan, specifically the callout system that will be used to notify clinic volunteers that our clinic has been activated. This is a complicated procedure as we determine how notification will occur, who will undertake the notification, and updating contact information as you, our volunteers, notify us of changes in your specific information. Over the next 4 months, you may receive an alert indicating that Mass Dispensing Clinic #31 is testing its callout procedure. The message that follows that will then ask you to indicate whether you would have been able to respond had this been a real emergency. The purpose of this test is to determine whether 1) we can reach you in an emergency; 2) do we have the correct contact information for you; and 3) if you are asked to call in to a central telephone number, do we have the ability to handle those calls. Any feedback that you can give us as a result of those tests will be greatly appreciated.

Planning has begun to conduct a functional exercise some time this summer. That exercise will be designed to test our ability to set up our clinic in a short period of time. The results of that exercise will be used not only to revise our clinic plan, but will give all of us experience on setting up a clinic. More will be said about this exercise in the upcoming month. The May newsletter will specify the date for that exercise.

Again, thank you for all of your suggestions, comments, and participation.

Charles J. Petrillo., Dr.PH

Regional Clinic Coordinator

Planning Region #31

 


March 15, 2005

Dear Clinic Volunteer:

As Smallpox Planning Region #31 (Windsor and South Windsor) continues to plan for response to a smallpox, pandemic flu, or anthrax emergency, recruitment and training of medical and non-medical volunteers becomes increasingly important. To date, over 300 persons from Region #31 have volunteered to assist should it become necessary to activate a clinic in response to an emergency situation. That is a great response and I want to thank you for offering to assist your town, the region, and ultimately the state. However, recruitment is an on-going process and will continue so that we can meet our goal of recruiting a base of 1,000 volunteers.

We are now beginning the process of training so that those who have volunteered will learn what is expected of them and what is likely to occur should clinics throughout the state and nation be activated. The success of any activity is dependent on everyone knowing what they will be expected to do and feeling comfortable in that knowledge. Toward this end, three training sessions have been planned within the next 15 days. Dates and times for this training have been spelled out in this newsletter. I encourage you to attend one of these two-hour sessions and to encourage others who have volunteered or might want to volunteer to attend.

A second issue of importance is our ability to contact each of you should something occur. Thus from time to time, we will be testing our callout capability by issuing alerts and asking you to respond to a message that will be in the alert. These messages will clearly state that "This is a Test. If this were a real emergency, would you be able to respond to the South Windsor High School at XXXXX time today". The message will ask you to respond by simply emailing a response or calling a designated phone number. These tests are important as they allow us to test our ability to contact those who will be participating in the clinic by determining whether we have the correct contact information, are the messages clear, and can you contact us with your response.

Again, I want to thank you for volunteering and for participating in training and assisting us to test our callout system.

 

Charles J. Petrillo, Jr., Dr.PH
Regional Clinic Coordinator
Planning Region #31


 

Feb 12, 2005

 

With national, state and local planning for a potential bioterrorist (BT) event well into its fourth year, it is important that everyone in Planning Region #31, Windsor and South Windsor, be kept fully informed as to the progress to date and the expectations for the future. Towards that end, the region’s Volunteer Subcommittee will be publishing a monthly newsletter. This is the second such edition. In each newsletter, I will attempt to give an overview of events on the National and State levels that are likely to impact our planning process. I will also try to call attention to local planning events and training opportunities that are detailed within each issue.

The emphasis for the 2004-2005 planning period from a national and state perspective focuses on three main goals. The first is to update our Smallpox Mass Vaccination Clinic plans and expand those plans to include dispensing clinics for Anthrax and Pandemic Flu. Second, all regions are required to conduct drills and exercises that are designed to test those plans. Finally, and most important, regions are encouraged to continue to recruit medical and non-medical volunteers to staff any mass dispensing clinic. Region #31 will be directing the bulk if its activities to accomplishing these goals.

This issue of your region’s newsletter outlines the first of what will be a series of volunteer trainings coming up in March. It will focus on the clinic in general, the specific tasks that volunteers will be expected to perform and will address certain clinic details such as "how will I be notified?", "where do I go?", "child care?", and "will I be fed"? I encourage you to attend if at all possible since the more training we receive, the more comfortable we will be, and the better we will perform if we’re ever called upon to activate the clinic. This issue also describes TRAINCT which is the web based site that outlines all national, state and regional training opportunities and is the site we will be required to use to register for any training.

Finally, I want to thank you for volunteering to assist Region #31. The teamwork, cooperation, and enthusiasm exhibited by the political leaders, administrators, and residents of both towns in this planning process has been gratifying. While the planning to date has focused on smallpox and in the future will be expanded to address other potential biological agents, the benefit is that we’re better able to address any natural or man-made event and to assist each other should the need arise. So that we may continue to keep you informed, I would ask you to notify us of any changes in your email or contact information.  Thank you.

                                                                     
Charles J. Petrillo, Jr., Dr.PH                                                                     
Regional Clinic Coordinator
Planning Region #31

 

 

 

© Copyright 2005 Mass Dispensing Area 31 Clinic Committee (Windsor, CT and South Windsor, CT USA)