Press-Republican

Local News

December 9, 2012

Drill tests response to extreme medical situation

PLATTSBURGH — At its peak, Clinton County Health Department’s recent Medical Counter Measure drill processed “victims” at a rate of 71 per 15 minutes.

Held at the Clinton County Senior Citizens Council, the exercise filled an annual requirement of the New York State Health Department as part of emergency preparedness.

The primary focus of the drill was to test local Health Department staff’s ability to process a minimum of 50 people every 15 minutes to receive medication in an extreme emergency situation, a press release said.   

The second aim was to have all participants preregister electronically; no on-site registration was allowed as a test of the Clinical Data Management System, also an annual requirement.

The drill required that a “target” group in the community be identified to add realism to the event. The premise was that a number of seniors were exposed to anthrax through a mail-distribution situation. Most participants were in that target group, the release said. By choosing anthrax exposure, the scenario provided the need for an offsite full functional response system to be set-up to allow dispensing of appropriate medication to prevent illness or death.

The Clinical Data Management System alerted staff at 8:30 a.m. that day via an automated phone message system, providing them with specific instructions to follow. 

A trained team drove to CVPH Medical Center to pick up the “antidote,” along with required forms. That team met more staff setting up the drill at the Senior Citizens Center.

The exercise required 16 computer stations to process patients, who collected their “medication” at dispensing stations. 

Some were flagged for potential health issues and directed to a medical screening table to resolve the concern and determine which “medication” was safe for them to receive.

“This type of drill is essential to the safety of the community and the ongoing need to apply skills learned in a realistic situation,” the release said. “Emergency partner agencies in our community implement similar type drills specific to their skill set and resources.”

Learn more about how local health departments prepare for local emergency events www.clintonhealth.org or www.health.ny.gov.

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