Exercise simulates mass distribution during medical emergency

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The state is making sure it’s prepared in case there’s ever a massive medical emergency.

The Hawaii Department of Health, along with partner agencies, practiced Thursday procedures to get medicine out to the public quickly, like during an anthrax attack.

The training scenario at the Neal S. Blaisdell Exhibition Hall included a simulated activation of the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile of medicine and medical supplies, which can be requested to supplement state and local resources during a public health emergency severe enough to exhaust local supplies.

Officials say they could get supplies out to the public in two ways, through an open point of distribution (POD), which means booths set up in the community, or a closed POD, meaning officials go to workplaces and distribute supply bundles there.

“We know with closed PODs, you can only do so many and there’s going to be some people in the public that aren’t going to be able to access it through those, so another way to get meds is through an open POD like this,” said Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist with the Department of Health.

More than 500 community volunteer “actors,” public health, emergency management, law enforcement, medical, transportation, security, warehouse, military, business, non-profit, and other public and private sector partners took part in Thursday’s exercise.

Officials say if state’s supplies run out, we would be able to get what we need from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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