Friday, August 10, 2007

Practice makes perfect when preparing for a pandemic

Hawaii is one state that is on the right track for preparing for a potential flu pandemic.

In July, report of a plane crash on Midway Island sent more than 200 medical and emergency officials scrambling to respond. Fortunately for passengers and crew, the "crash" was staged as part of a response drill designed to test coordination among agencies within the state. And as if the mock mishap wasn't enough, the simulation reported that all passengers had also been "exposed" to avian flu.

Federal, military, state and county specialists mobilized to respond during the drill. Planes transported medical specialists to Midway to treat the passengers -– some of whom had already developed flu-like symptoms. Officials quickly set up a quarantine site, decontamination station and mobile hospital at a location that was predetermined for triage during the drill. U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents worked to secure the triage area and identified 10 patients and 50 medical specialists for quarantine or medical care. The agents followed procedures and reported all cases of flu.

Pandemic flu drills such as the one held in Hawaii are becoming more commonplace in communities and states around the country -– and even at the federal level. If there's truth to the adage that "practice makes perfect," they should serve as examples for the rest of us in our efforts to prepare all Americans for a flu pandemic.

Has your state or community held a pandemic flu drill? Share your experiences in the comments section of this blog.

1 comment:

Kayla said...

I hadn't thought of a multi-factorial flu outbreak, occuring in a situation such as a plane crash with Avian flu exposure. The symptoms and injuries become suddenly complicated, coflincting and confusing. Also from an island myself, the notion of evacuationa dn dquarantine takes on an entirely new meaning, due to limited land area. It's good to know that our first responders have been forced to think about this, for I sure have not.