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Published Tue, Dec 25, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Feb 12, 2013 11:49 AM

Council considers plan to get private supply of medical supplies during disaster

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- ajames@newsobserver.com

CLAYTON -- The town’s government may be the first town government in the county to be signed up to receive emergency medical supplies solely for the town employees and their families in the event of a disaster.

Steve Strickland, assistant health director at Johnston County Health Department, presented the option of “closed pods” to town council members in Clayton Monday.

Whereas the public has access to “open pods” that are filled with emergency medical supplies to be used during a disaster, the “closed pods” will be for town government employees and their families. The goal is to eliminate the wait time for the government employees to receive the supplies, said Strickland.

“You want to ensure the governments are still able to provide service to the people during the process,” said Strickland. He said it’s important for town employees to have access to their own pod so they can ensure continuity of operation of the organization during a disaster. Also, by having another pod that’s just for the town government, it would make the process of distributing supplies at the public pods more efficient.

The pods would contain the same supplies, whether they are for the public, or for the town government. Any organization, private or public, with 50 or more members, can request a closed pod. The pods are free. They include medical supplies, antibiotics, medicines to avert a nuclear reactor melting down, and masks, similar to what people wore at the hospital during the time of the H1N1 scare, said Strickland. They are not gas masks.

The last time the open pods were used in Johnston County was in 2009 during the H1N1 virus scare, when medical supplies came in “push packages,” or packets of supplies from the strategic national stockpile, and were distributed to the public. Counties across the country have access to their own “push packages,” intended for the entire population of the country and organized by the Centers for Disease Control.

In the event of an emergency, the governor has to send a request to the federal government, then the open pods are shipped by police escort within 12 hours to the county in need. Supplies from the pods are then distributed at local high schools where any citizen can receive them.

“Push packages” were used in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and after September 11.

Clayton’s town council is the first in Johnston County where the health department has presented the option. Strickland said he felt the town of Clayton is very “progressive,” and would be receptive to the idea. He was right. There was no controversy or questioning about having a closed pod.

“The more we are ready for any potential disaster, the better off we’re going to be,” said mayor Pro-Tem Michael Grannis. The health department is embarking upon a plan to get all of the town governments in the county to have closed pods. The next stop is Smithfield.

To move forward with having a closed pod in Clayton, the town council has put the item on the consent agenda for the next council meeting on January 7.

James: 919-553-7234

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