June 25, 2009 at 8:40 a.m.
The North Branch High School was the site of a public health drill with candy (M&Ms) substituted as the medication being dispensed. Participants filled out health forms, met with public health nursing staff who screened them and handed out the "medication."
The drill included testing the communications ability of all the departments involved, in the event of a medical stockpile dispersal alert. An emergency operations center was set up to coordinate communications within the region. County Administrator John Moosey and Public Health Director Jill Briggs served as two of the command center staff for the drill.
Briggs said, "Communication during a public health disaster is key. This exercise tested our ability to notify and deploy public health staff, volunteers and agency partners to the site and measure how quickly they can be trained and ready to help... exercise participants reacted to information and situations in the same manner as if this was a real disaster. Training is essential."
Others involved in the drill last week included: MN Responds/Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, American Red Cross observers, Fairview Lakes Medical staffers, Chisago County Human Services personnel, interns, local retirees and the Salvation Army.
The county receives grants from the Minnesota Dept. of Health, the Public Preparedness Grant, Cities Readiness Initiative Grant, all required by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in support of the Strategic National Stockpile program.
Chisago County Public Health thanks the following organizations and volunteers who played key roles in this important drill:
~ North Branch Area Schools and Joan Audette, Mike Johnson and Chip Treen
~ NB Police Officer Wayne Schwalbe
~Exercise Evaluator Pauline Amundson of Pine County Public Health
~ Howard Kushman and Lisa Letourneau of the American Red Cross who served as observers
~ Marianne Anderson, Fairview Hospital
~ Refreshments and snacks provided by Salvation Army volunteers Lois Sosenheimer and Linda Kammerer
~ Forest Lake Embroidery, Lynda Baker, for official T-shirts
~ MN Responds/Medical reserve Coprs. volunteers Carol Kirchberg, Jane Jacobson and Dave McAuliff
~ Residents from The Villages in North Branch and from Maple Commons apartments
~ Heartland Express for transporting senior citizen volunteers
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