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Suffolk Health Conducts Emergency Preparedness Exercise

The Suffolk County Department of Health Services on February 27, 2017, directed an emergency preparedness exercise designed by the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) to test the county’s readiness for a pandemic influenza outbreak.

In the event of a flu outbreak, the health department would be responsible for providing preventive medication to the general public at points of dispensing (PODs), managing patient surge on hospitals, distributing medical supplies from state and federal stockpile, and activating the New York State EMS Mobilization Plan to request assistance from elsewhere in the state in response to surge on the 911 ambulance response system.

Following guidance in the county’s Emergency Management Plan and the health department’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness Plan, the divisions of Public Health and Emergency Medical Services modeled a response to this pandemic flu scenario in conjunction with the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services’ Office of Emergency Management, Suffolk County Police Department, Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office, and other key participants that are integral parts of ongoing countywide emergency preparedness efforts.

“This Emergency Preparedness drill is a critical part of ensuring our personnel are prepared in case of an influenza outbreak,” said County Executive Steve Bellone.  “Participating in exercises at regular intervals with community partners keeps the Department of Health Services at the forefront of emergency response.”

 “Exercises such as this test the ability of key units of state and local government, supported by volunteer and non-governmental agencies, to come together as a whole community to respond safely, quickly and efficiently in the event of influenza outbreak,” said Dr. James Tomarken, Commissioner of Health Services for Suffolk County.

A hot wash was conducted after the exercise to identify strengths and weakness of the exercise. According to Bob Delagi, Director of EMS and Public Health Emergency Preparedness, “Suffolk County typically performs well on such exercises, but there is always something learned, something we can improve upon, or some new parameter in the exercise, which is why rehearsal for disaster is so important.”


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