For Immediate Release: June 13, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health has just achieved high marks (a score of 90 out of 100 possible points) from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention for its Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) emergency preparedness program.
The rating is based on the state’s demonstrated readiness to quickly move pharmaceuticals, vaccines, antidotes and medical supplies from national and state stockpiles to clinics and hospitals in the event of an emergency such as pandemic flu, an anthrax attack or toxic chemical spill.
Vermont's newest rating comes after an extensive on-site review in April by CDC evaluators of the state’s plans and capacities. A score of 90 to 100 (green-minus to green) indicates the highest level of preparedness, amber is average, and red means there is great need for improvement. Vermont’s previous rating was amber-plus.
“This is great news for Vermonters,” said Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt, RN, MSN. “The ultimate measure of our readiness is how quickly we can get medical help to people when they need it. While there is still much more work to be done, Vermonters can rest assured that plans are in place and thousands of professionals in public health, state government and health care stand ready to save and protect lives in the event of a public health emergency.”
The Strategic National Stockpile program is a federal asset that augments local supplies with a large, continuous quantity of medications, vaccines, supplies and equipment delivered to the state within 12 hours of an emergency. Each SNS “push package” weighs more than 50 tons and fills a wide-body aircraft.
An effective response involves multiple state agencies and the entire health care community. Key planning and response partners are Vermont Emergency Management, Vermont National Guard and the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. It is each state’s responsibility to plan, train and exercise together and prove its capacity.
Key measures of readiness are capacity to quickly and effectively:
- detect, identify and investigate unusual patterns of illness.
- conduct laboratory testing for an array of biological and chemical agents.
- exchange critical information among health professionals.
- deliver useful, accurate and credible information to the public.
- securely request, receive, store, transport and deliver SNS supplies.
- stand up and operate public health clinics to treat or vaccinate affected populations – up to the entire population of Vermont, if necessary.
In August 2004, SNS response was tested for the first time during the state’s first large-scale exercise. Dubbed "Operation Red Clover", the three-day scenario involved a simulated intentional release of pneumonic plague in St. Albans and air delivery of SNS supplies by the Vermont National Guard to public clinics in St. Albans and Morrisville.
In July 2006, SNS response was again tested during the two-week “Operation Pandemic Flu” large-scale exercise that involved two poultry farms, UVM, Southern Vermont College and most hospitals. Both exercises relied on hundreds of people playing out their respective roles and testing plans in a coordinated response to protect the health of Vermonters.
More information on the Strategic National Stockpile is available at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention website: www.bt.cdc.gov/stockpile/
For information on emergency preparedness from the Vermont Department of Health, go to: http://healthvermont.gov/e_ready.aspx