By Naomi Hatch
The Snowflake and Taylor fire departments held an exercise May 20 in which they dispensed drugs to prepare for a disaster requiring the 12,000 residents of the community to take preventative medication to stop the spread of disease.
“We ran out of papers, that’s how fast we did it,” said Snowflake Fire Chief Pat Hancock of the success of the exercise.
The exercise was held at the Snowflake Fire Department, but if this type of catastrophe occurred, drugs would be dispensed from both fire departments and all equipment would be housed in Taylor, which would respond to all emergency calls.
“We have an advantage,” said Hancock, noting that the Snowflake and Taylor fire departments and emergency services work closely together, making it possible to dispense from one department and answer emergency calls from the other.
The first step was to fill out a Household Medicine Form, then volunteer drivers followed a course at the Snowflake Fire Station, where they drove through the station bay and picked up medications.
Communication plans were an important part of the exercise using a primary incident command frequency.
The exercise was conducted in a plausible scenario with a no-fault learning environment so the capabilities of the plans, system and process could be evaluated.
The exercise simulated sufficient detail to allow the participants to react to information and situations as if it were a real incident.
An evaluation will be held at a later date to discuss what went right and what they can improve upon.
The fire departments have a memorandum of understanding with the Navajo County Health Department that allows them to dispense medications in times of emergency.
Hancock said that the Snowflake and Taylor fire departments have been working together very well, and are holding combined training classes.