(Accomac, Va.) On Thursday, October 17, 2019, the staffs of the Eastern Shore Health District (ESHD) and Eastern Shore Rural Health (ESRH) exercised emergency preparedness plans at the Chincoteague Community Health Center. Using a scenario endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), employees from both of the organizations, as well as Town of Chincoteague employees, Chincoteague Police officers, community partners from U.S. Coast Guard Station Chincoteague, Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital, Eastern Shore Community Services Board and Heritage Hall Nursing and Rehab Center, and volunteers from Eastern Shore Community Emergency Response Team (ESCERT) and Eastern Shore Medical Reserve Corps (ESMRC), rehearsed the opening of a Neighborhood Emergency Help Center (NEHC) where they practiced dispensing preventive medications to the exposed.
The Eastern Shore Health District and Eastern Shore Rural Health have partnered together since 2004. Exercises are held annually at community health centers located strategically throughout the Eastern Shore in order to be best prepared to handle a mass exposure to a biological agent or large outbreak type of event that might require a large number of people to seek treatment in a limited window of time. In a real event, medications will arrive on the Eastern Shore from the United States Strategic National Stockpile that must be dispensed to all who need it within 48 hours, according to the plan. Evaluators from the community and Virginia Department of Health provided suggestions for improvement and all participants were encouraged to provide feedback in order to improve the process at each location.
All organizations involved are members of the Eastern Shore Disaster Preparedness Coalition (ESDPC). The ESDPC is a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional emergency preparedness and planning group that works to promote emergency planning, training, exercising and response activities on the Eastern Shore. Any organization or interested citizen may become a member of the ESDPC. For more information on the ESDPC or to become a member, please contact J.J. Justis at JJ.Justis@vdh.virginia.gov or 757-302-4267.