Public Health Emergency Preparedness has been a focus of the York District Coordinating Council, District Liaison and other interested parties for some time. Over the course of the last few years, events designed to recruit Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) members and tabletop exercises to showcase, educate and enhance overall preparedness have been led by this group.
Beginning in late 2015, stakeholders from across York Public Health District have been planning a full- scale public health emergency preparedness exercise. The culmination of this planning will be a Point of Dispensing exercise, also known as a POD. The term POD refers to an organized method to distribute medicine to the public during an emergency. This exercise will take place on October 19 at the University of New England’s Harold Alfond Forum.
This event will feature two POD distribution models. One will be administering “live” flu vaccine; the other will be handing out the mock bottles of ciprofloxacin or doxycycline needed to provide “post-exposure” medication based on the circumstances of the individuals presenting for triage. This multifaceted event has an overall objective of exercising and evaluating the University of New England as a new POD location as well as determining the capacity to deliver public health services on a challenging scale.
This collaboration has yielded additional benefit for Maine CDC, district stakeholders and the University of New England. For example, the University of New England has incorporated aspects of planning and staffing the event into their established curriculum for public health and medical students. This opportunity provides tangible, real-world experience for students to participate and understand an emergency response within the Maine Public Health structure.