Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

February 12, 2014

Exercise focuses on real world emergencies

By Devan Strebing devan.strebing@flyergroup.com
Hendricks County Flyer

---- — PLAINFIELD — The Hendricks County Health Department, the Hendricks County Medical Reserve Corps and other community volunteers and partners conducted the Hendricks County 2014 Point of Dispensing (POD) Full-Scale Exercise at Plainfield Community Middle School Saturday.

This exercise was held to measure the amount of time it takes for the Health Department, Medical Reserve Corps and Plainfield Fire and Police to set up and establish a POD in the event of an actual disaster or emergency.

“We have this point of dispensing exercise just in case there’s a public emergency,” Brittney Younger, public health preparedness coordinator of the health department, said. “We set up one of these sites in the county so that we could get the county residents what they need. We practice and make sure we are prepared for events, if they ever happen.”

The scenario for the exercise this past Saturday was if an anthrax outbreak happened in Plainfield. If it happened, the health department would have to do a mass antibiotic dispensing. At the beginning of the event, Younger would call her staff to set up the POD and they walk through it to make sure everything is correct for the public. The public then walks through, being asked if they are having symptoms and if they do not, they will go through the POD. They will get their registration form, walk to the screeners to fill out paperwork, and then the nurses would say what kinds of medicines they would need in the dispensing lines.

“It’s important for people to remember that this is just an exercise, we are doing this to test our ability to set this up and do it in a timely manner,” Rachel Buckman, health educator and PIO at the health department, said. “The public doesn’t need to be alarmed. This is to help us be able to practice and meet our mission, which is to protect the Hendricks County community through public health promotion and disease prevention. This is part of that because in the event of a public health emergency we are a vital role in dealing with it and responding to it. We are mainly the response part of what happens in an emergency situation.”

Tammy Horvath, who works at Hendricks Regional Health, said she signed up as a volunteer and then recruited her church members as well — 22 volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Avon.

“It’s a good way to provide service and for the public to be aware of what could happen,” Horvath said.

For the county exercises, the health department sticks to small events; if it was something bigger, they’d involve other counties.

“All of District 5 (Morgan, Boone, Johnson, Marion, Hancock, Hamilton, Shelby, and Hendricks) is involved so we can use each other’s resources,” Younger said. “It depends on what year and what we think we need to test on.”

The health department is called if a disaster/emergency is affecting public health. For example, if there is a tornado disaster and it affected the water supply, the health department would get involved.

Any Hendricks County resident who would like to volunteer in the future or wants to join the Hendricks County Medical Reserve Corps or another group, may contact Brittney Younger by e-mailing to byounger@co.hendricks.in.us or by calling 745-9214.