Alexandria And Arlington Health Departments Work Together To Test Ability To Deliver Medications Quickly
On Saturday, Nov. 8, the City of Alexandria and Arlington County are partnering to test their ability to deliver medications quickly to residents in the event of a public health emergency such as an anthrax attack or influenza pandemic.
Hundreds of residents, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, first responders and local and state health officials will be involved in the exercise, which will run from 9 a.m. until noon. Although both localities have held similar medication-dispensing exercises as required by the federally mandated Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), this is the first time the two have undertaken a cross-jurisdictional test.
“Arlington and Alexandria share many significant borders, so it makes sense for us to partner in such an important test of our emergency preparedness and response plans,” says Lisa G. Kaplowitz, MD, MSHA, Director, Alexandria Health Department. “Because CRI requires jurisdictions be able to dispense or deliver appropriate medications to their residents within 48 hours of the decision to do so, cross-jurisdictional exercises are the smart way to make sure we can do just that.”
“Our two communities have a long history of helping each other in times of crisis,” adds Reuben Varghese, MD, MPH, Public Health Director, Arlington County, ” and we don’t believe a public health emergency should be any different. Illnesses and disasters certainly don’t respect borders and we want to plan accordingly. In the case of a public health emergency, we want residents to go to the medication dispensing site that’s most convenient, regardless of its location.”
For the November 8 “Be Ready Alexandria & Arlington” exercise, five medical dispensing sites will be open, two in Arlington and three in Alexandria. “Volunteering for the exercise should take about 30 minutes,” explains Dr. Varghese, “and entails walking up to the site; filling out a brief, head-of-household medical questionnaire; and picking up ‘fake’ antibiotics, which for this exercise are Skittles and M&Ms.”
“While hundreds of residents, church congregations and homeowner’s association members have pledged to participate, we’re hoping residents turn out in droves Saturday morning,” says Dr. Kaplowitz. “The more volunteers we have, the better we’ll be able to test our plans, and then make the changes needed to ensure the health and safety of the citizens in our communities.
“Be Ready Arlington & Alexandria” Exercise
Here are the five medical dispensing sites for the November 8 exercise:
▪City of Alexandria
NOVA Community College, Tyler Building, 3001 North Beauregard Street
Charles Barrett Elementary School, 1115 Martha Custis Drive
Cora Kelly Recreational Center, 25 West Reed Avenue
Aurora Hills Community Center, 735 18th Street South
Fairlington Community Center, 3308 South Stafford Street
For more information on the November 8 exercise in Alexandria, you can call (703) 838-4400 ext. 283 or 294, or visit www.alexandria.gov/health; in Arlington, call (703) 228-5580 or visit www.arlingtonva.us/dhs.
For more information about the Virginia Department of Health’s Emergency Preparedness & Response programs and plans, you can log onto www.vdh.virginia.gov.
For more information on the Cities Readiness Initiative, log onto www.cdc.gov.