Due to logistical errors the four-day pandemic exercise will reconvene today, Thursday, according to Tara Brown, project officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-Division of State and Local Readiness-Office of Public Health and Preparedness and Response.
The four-day pandemic exercise, called Strategic National Stockpile/Receiving Staging Storing/Medical Countermeasures Pandemic Influenza Full Scale Exercise, intends to test the CNMI’s response capabilities in the event of a pandemic outbreak.
Brown disclosed that a small technical issue did happen during the first day of the exercise. However, she said that in the event things go wrong in an exercise, stakeholders should fill gaps that need to be addressed.
“You want things to go wrong so you can identify your gaps and weak areas. I think what originally started the processes is that the person that had been identified to be the logistics was out sick but that is a good thing because in the event of a pandemic, you are talking of flu and infectious diseases and people won’t be able to work,” Brown said.
“That is where you really advocate to train your staff and so if someone is out sick, unavailable, or can’t get to the office, there is always somebody in the office that is trained,” she added.
Despite the small errors and gaps identified, it didn’t stop the training from continuing. Warren F. Villagomez, Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. Public Health-Hospital Emergency Preparedness Program director, said they made some changes to accommodate the change of schedule to today.
He said this is the first time for an SNS exercise to be conducted on the island.
“I would not say that there are major issues but that is one reason that we’re reengaging in a discussion base to make sure that response efforts is coordinated among players,” he said.
Although small errors showed up, the various organizations involved did manage to figure out how to get medical supplies to Rota and Tinian. It will be distributed through air, charter, regular carrier, Department of Public Safety-Boating Safety, and Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
Organizations that are taking part in the exercise include CHCC’s PHEPP, Medical Supply Office, HAZMAT responders, maintenance/facility, finance division, Department of Public Lands and its various divisions; Customs and Border Protection, 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.