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Exercise tests NMI response to pandemic

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Several government agencies worked together almost half the day yesterday in a full-scale training exercise that planned out the distribution of large quantities of medicine and medical supplies in the event of an influenza pandemic in the CNMI.
The training started at about 9am at the Fiesta Resort and Spa Saipan’s Hibiscus Hall, with the introduction of the training program called Strategic National Stockpile/Receiving Staging Storing/Medical Countermeasures Pandemic Influenza Full Scale Exercise.

A Commonwealth Ports Authority officer uses a K-9 to inspect one of the escorts for the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS (medical supplies) before entering CPA property for potential hazards such as bombs. This was conducted yesterday afternoon during CHCC’s Pandemic Influenza training exercise. (Jayson Camacho)

A Commonwealth Ports Authority officer uses a K-9 to inspect one of the escorts for the Strategic National Stockpile or SNS (medical supplies) before entering CPA property for potential hazards such as bombs. This was conducted yesterday afternoon during CHCC’s Pandemic Influenza training exercise. (Jayson Camacho)

Carl Haddon, On Scene Training Associates LLC director and instructor, and instructor Anthony Correia briefed participants on what would take place in the event any outbreak or disaster were to hit the CNMI.

Warren F. Villagomez, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Public Health-Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program director, said Fiesta was selected as the command center for the exercise.

The training

The training officially began at 1:30pm where the transportation, operations, security, and air operations set out to retrieve medical supplies from the airport.

The group retrieving the supplies had to go through various check ups before they could go anywhere.

During the airport exercise, the CNMI state representative met up with the U.S. Marshals to release the supplies while the Department of Public Safety and other security agencies escorted them to the point of distribution at CHCC’s medical supply storage in Lower Base.

Along the way, an “accident” occurred and a different route had to be taken immediately. Escorts then turned into China Town and reached Lower Base via a different route.

DPS-TRET team then secured the perimeter so that the packages were delivered safely. It was then put into the warehouse where contents could be stored prior to delivering them to areas in need of the supplies.

DPS acting director Pete Leon Guerrero said that DPS’ part was to make sure that the package is securely transported from the airport to the warehouse.

“If an epidemic happens, everybody would want it right away especially CHCC and there would be a need to get the medication quickly for the medical providers to distribute it so we had to transport it safely to the distribution point,” Leon Guerrero said.

Great response

Haddon and Correia praised the groups that took part in yesterday’s training, saying they did well, but saw some parts of the exercise that needed to be addressed.

Villagomez said the overall activity on the first day was very successful.

“All our partners and stakeholders participated in full force and we pulled the first day very well. We took comments from the instructors and recommendations so that we could address it and better prepare for any emergency,” Villagomez said.

He said Haddon and Correia noted some of the timing and steps to be addressed.

“Nothing major happened during the event of the transportation and our partners did great,” he said.

Organizations that took part in the exercise included CHCC’s PHEPP, Medical Supply Office, HAZMAT responders, maintenance/facility, finance division, Department of Public Lands and its various divisions; Customs Border Patrol, CNMI Customs, DPS (Saipan, Tinian, and Rota), Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Commonwealth Ports Authority, Northern Marianas College, Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Commonwealth Utilities Corp., American Red Cross-NMI Chapter, Medical Reserve Corps Volunteers, TakeCare FHP, Rota Health Center, Tinian Health Center, St. Jude Renal Dialysis, Pacific jurisdictions (Hawaii, Guam, and Republic of Marshall Islands), U.S. Marshal, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Marianas Visitors Authority, Saipan Health Clinic, Priority Care, and Medical Associates of the Pacific.

Jayson Camacho | Reporter
Jayson Camacho covers community events, tourism, and general news coverages. Contact him at jayson_camacho@saipantribune.com.

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