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Suffolk County Department of Health Services Tests Medical Counter Measures Plan

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services, yesterday, tested its readiness to lead in the event of natural or man-made disease outbreak.

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Suffolk County, NY - May 15, 2015 - The Suffolk County Department of Health Services, yesterday, tested its readiness to lead in the event of natural or man-made disease outbreak. Health officials used the scenario of an Anthrax outbreak as the scenario for this particular drill, which took place at the Suffolk County Police Academy, on the campus of the Suffolk County Community College, in Brentwood NY.

The purpose of the drill was to test the Department’s Medical Counter Measures (MCM) plan, of which the goal is to quickly and efficiently dispense medication that provides well individuals with protection against Anthrax.  County staff from multiple agencies, with the assistance of volunteers, was able to process more than 250 individuals through this Point of Dispensing, (POD) in one hour. Each individual was greeted, screened for illness or special needs, and directed to the appropriate venue in order to receive appropriate services for his or her needs. Among the volunteers assisting at the POD were student nurses from the Suffolk County Community College School of Nursing; police cadets; representatives from the disabilities community, AARP, the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).  The Exercise was supported by the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services (FRES), the Suffolk County Police Department, the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, the Brentwood Legion Ambulance Service and the Islip Fire Department Rescue Squad.

“When you don’t hear about a crises or a disease outbreak, you know your county health department is doing its job in protecting the public health,” said County Executive Steve Bellone. “However, if there is an outbreak, we will be ready. That’s what these drills are all about.”

“If you live in Suffolk County, you can feel good that our health department knows how to dispense protective medications to those residents who are well if an outbreak of disease, such as flu or anthrax, were to occur in our community,” said Commissioner of Health Services Dr. James Tomarken.

“In a real-world scenario, this would be one of multiple PODs that would be set up throughout the county,” said Robert Delagi, Director of Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Medical Services. “Volunteers and our partners from other Departments in Suffolk County Government are essential to this operation, which is why we practice and provide ‘just-in-time’ training as part of our drill.”

“This is one of the most comprehensive and complete drills I have observed statewide,” said Lou Ann Lance MSN, RN, Bureau of Communicable Disease Control of the New York State Department of Health who was on hand to evaluate the county’s readiness.

The drill was a deliverable for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness grant provided by the NY State Department of Health.