Stockpile in Action
When the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calls, CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) answers. In 2017, the stockpile simultaneously responded to not one, but three consecutive hurricanes, and, at the direction of HHS, rapidly deployed expert personnel, Federal Medical Stations (FMS), and other supplies to the affected areas.
In a public health emergency that requires stockpiled medical countermeasures (MCM), readiness at the state and local levels to receive and make effective use of these products is critical.
Several times a year, CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and State and Local Readiness (DSLR) present a 5-day SNS Operations Course, held at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.
In the United States, most of us take it for granted that if we need medicine – cough syrup, aspirin, or even most antibiotics – we can just run down to the pharmacy and get it. That’s because our medical supply chain – the series of organizations, companies, and systems that make sure those shelves are stocked – works well.
Rather than providing medicines and supplies on hand, stockpile responders contributed specialized expertise and knowledge of medical logistics and supply chain operations in support of the Zika response. .
In April 2015, an Ohio doctor made an urgent call to CDC concerning a possible life-threatening botulism outbreak that posed a risk to as many as 50 people who had attended a church potluck dinner. Within hours, CDC, the Ohio Department of Health, and a local hospital had determined that botulism antitoxin was needed to treat the food-borne illness. They made an immediate request to the only U.S. source: CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).
Many individuals approach public health catastrophes with an ‘if it happens, it won’t happen to me’ mentality. But what if it does happen to you? You’ll probably find yourself wishing that there was a rapid response team out there waiting to provide you the cure. Fortunately, there is a national stockpile of medicine designed especially for these circumstances.
The first thing that comes to mind when people think about the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is probably a big warehouse with lots of medicines and supplies. What many do not know is that even when the SNS does not have the specific medicines or supplies needed to combat a public health threat, SNS experts can play a key role in working with medical supply chain partners to locate and purchase products during an emergency response.
When disaster strikes, CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is prepared to provide medicine and medical supplies to any affected area within the United States and its territories on a moment’s notice. The SNS serves as the nation’s repository of medicines and supplies for use if there is a public health emergency, such as a terrorist attack, flu outbreak, or natural disaster, severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.
What comes to mind when you think “community”? Maybe you immediately think of neighbors and friends who live nearby. Or perhaps local businesses, churches, civic organizations and others. What about some of your regular stops around your community such as your pharmacy where you fill your prescriptions or buy over-the-counter medicine?
The events of 9/11 will forever be engrained in our memories. The attacks on the twin towers, Pentagon, and the anthrax attacks which followed were unimaginable at the time. Ten years after these tragic events, what’s changed?
It’s a terrifying but plausible scenario. You’re in an enclosed crowded place—perhaps a subway or a mall—and a terrorist organization releases lethal quantities of a nerve agent such as sarin into the air. The gas sends your nervous system into overdrive. You begin having convulsions. EMTs rush to the scene while you go into respiratory failure. If they have nerve agent antidotes with them, you may have a greater chance of living. If they don’t, you may be more likely to die.
Planning the response to a public health emergency can be a daunting endeavor. Many factors in multiple complex systems contribute to the potential for success in executing these plans at every level of the response. Preparedness planners have to consider these many factors to ensure that their plans can work despite potential failure points.
- Page last reviewed: November 27, 2017
- Page last updated: November 27, 2017
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