N.H. Agencies Conduct Pandemic Exercise

The exercise focused providing oxygen to noncritical patients in an alternate care site.


June 05--ROCHESTER -- After the last bell rang and the students went home, an emergency health exercise was conducted at Rochester Middle School last month.

Communities in Strafford County partnered with state officials and local health care agencies after the school day ended May 14 to train for a situation in which emergency personnel would need to set up and provide oxygen care, such as in a pandemic.

The exercise focused on the ability to set up and administer oxygen to noncritical patients in an Alternate Care Site (ACS), which is a temporary facility that can be set up quickly to provide limited patient services during an emergency or disaster, according to Dave Hutchinson, Strafford County's Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

"Planning for these services in the community setting is an important strategy to address the potential for patient surge on health care services during a pandemic," Hutchinson said, adding that while an ACS would be a last resort, planning for such an event is necessary.

In Strafford County, Rochester Middle School and the Dover Middle School have been designated as ACS sites.

The purpose of an ACS is to help take the pressure off a hospital that may be over capacity in an emergency.

During the exercise, local first responders, hospital and health care staff and employees from other local agencies worked together to set up equipment and walk through a scenario in which an ACS would be required.

The event was coordinated by the Strafford County Public Health Network and involved Rochester Fire and Police, Rochester School Department, Dover Fire, Somersworth Fire, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital, American Ambulance, LinCare, Cornerstone VNA, NH Center for Excellence Community Health Institute, Community Action Partnership of Strafford County, Health and Safety Council of Strafford County, and graduate candidates from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy Emergency Management Graduate Program.

Copyright 2014 - Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.