Health district to participate in full-scale stockpile exercise
By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Southwest Nebraska Public Health Department (SWNPHD) has been asked by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to participate in a full-scale exercise related to the receipt and distribution of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
The full-scale exercise will take place in June. Heidi Wheeler of Imperial, Emergency Response Coordinator for SWNPHD, is already planning with state and local response partners such as law enforcement, emergency managers, state employees and five hospitals in the eight county health district.
The SNS is a national repository of antibiotics, chemical antidotes, vaccines, antitoxins, life-support medications and medical/surgical items. It is designed to re-supply state and local public health agencies in the event of a biological and/or chemical incident and stands ready for immediate deployment to any location in the U.S.
Wheeler said the cities of Lincoln and Omaha have already held such an exercise, but SWNPHD is the only other health district in the state performing the exercise so far this summer.
She said that although she can’t reveal the site of the stockpile for security reasons, the repository items will be coming out of Lincoln in the event of an emergency.
“The chance to test this function with the state does not come around very often, so I am excited to be able to participate in this exercise with all our partners,” she said.
“As with any rural area our resources are somewhat limited. Therefore, it is even more important to be prepared for large medical emergencies.”
Wheeler said the hospitals in Imperial, Grant, McCook, Benkelman and Cambridge are participating in the exercise. She stressed that those hospitals will not be repository sites.