Concord, NH - A recent review of the preparedness efforts of the State’s ability to distribute and dispense medical countermeasures for a public health emergency showed improvement in the overall score over last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducts the annual assessment of the State’s Strategic National Stockpile Program and the seven Cities Readiness Initiative Regions, which include Strafford County Region, Seacoast Region, Greater Derry Region, Greater Manchester Region, Greater Nashua Region, Greater Monadnock Region, and the Capital Area Region.
“Each year we are evaluated on our planning efforts including exercises and drills,” said NH’s Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero. “We’ve been working closely with our regional public health partners and have shown steady improvement in our assessment evaluation over the years and continue to do well in our overall plan, communications, security and inventory control.”
The annual assessment looks at the State’s efforts, regional work by Public Health Networks and the Cities Readiness Initiative Sites from February 2012 to February 2013. The assessment process has been in place since 2004, and New Hampshire continues to improve its readiness year after year.
“I’m very pleased with our scores this year,” said NH’s Strategic National Stockpile Coordinator Vickie Carrier. “Our scores reflect the continued dedication to training and preparation from the Public Health Coordinators to emergency response teams and volunteers. New Hampshire is fortunate to have the commitment of so many broadly trained individuals that help ensure we are prepared if and when a public health emergency should arise.”
The SNS program is a federally managed system that, in the event of a major emergency, provides medication, medical equipment, and medical supplies to local areas to support the response to an emergency. The medical emergency could be natural or human-caused. Typical planning scenarios include a terrorist attack, pandemic influenza, and mass anthrax exposure. In the event of such an emergency, citizens would be given specific instructions and in most cases would be directed to go to various Points of Dispensing to receive medication.
Public health threats are always present, whether caused by natural, accidental, or intentional means. Incidents such as the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, Hurricane Katrina, and other disease outbreaks and natural disasters that have occurred underscore the importance of communities being prepared to receive and manage the Strategic National Stockpile. Preparing adequately for future emergencies and outbreaks requires predictable and adequate long-term effort to sustain and improve the public health infrastructure, staffing, and training.
For more about the Strategic National Stockpile visit www.cdc.gov/phpr/stockpile/stockpile.htm. For more information about New Hampshire’s SNS Planning and DHHS’ Emergency Services Unit visit www.dhhs.nh.gov