SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced today that Illinois’ plan to distribute necessary medications and medical supplies in the event of an emergency received high marks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Illinois Strategic National Stockpile plan scored 91 out of 100, well above the national average, during a recent in-depth assessment by the CDC. Reviewers looked at 13 different areas including controlling inventory of vaccines and medical supplies, distribution and security.
“When an emergency strikes, it is critical that we have a solid plan to get the necessary medical supplies to communities across the state. This assessment tells us not only that we’re well prepared but more so than other states around the country. Illinoisans should feel confident that we are working hard to prepare for even the worst of situations,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is charged with leading the response efforts of state agencies to ensure medications and medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) are provided to hospitals and health departments during a major disease outbreak; safeguarding the life and health of the citizens of Illinois.
The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) consists of large quantities of medications and medical supplies to protect people if there is a public health emergency (terrorist attack, flu outbreak, earthquake, etc.) severe enough to cause local and state supplies to run out. Once federal, state and local authorities agree the stockpile is needed, medications and medical supplies will be delivered to any state in the U.S. within 12 hours. Each state has plans to receive and distribute medications and medical supplies to local communities as quickly as possible.
“In 2003, Illinois became only the second state to obtain the Green, or highest rating, for its SNS plan and maintained that rating for three years. The CDC no longer uses the color rating system, but Illinois continues to rank above the national average for our SNS plan and preparedness efforts,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold.
Under the Governor’s direction, much of the state’s success in developing a high scoring SNS plan can be attributed to the emphasis on multi-agency coordination and collaboration. IDPH handles product allocation quality control procedures as well as directing the activities of other state response agencies. For example, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) manages the coordination of assets for the stockpile’s distribution and delivery; the Illinois State Police handles security; the Illinois National Guard provides warehouse manpower; the Illinois Department of Transportation is utilized for both ground and air transportation services and the Illinois Department of Corrections assists with facility availability. Other state agencies can be called on to help support the SNS plan at any time. The CDC’s review of the Illinois SNS plan comments on the solid working relationship between state agencies and the leadership of IDPH, “This cannot be more evidenced by the fact their Overall Preparedness assessment score is now a 91 percent.”
Gov. Blagojevich has focused on state preparedness through various actions and exercises including:
· Health Department Exercises: The Illinois Department of Public Health, working in cooperation with local health departments, annually exercise their SNS dispending plans which assures all residents of the county, and therefore the state, will receive the needed medications.
· Tabletop Exercises: The Illinois Department of Public Health conducted three tabletop exercises on pandemic influenza in 2006 designed to document specific action steps and resources needed to improve preparedness efforts in the state. Several state agencies including the Illinois Department of Agriculture, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and the Illinois State Board of Education participated in the tabletop exercises along with local health departments, hospitals and other health care organizations.
· FLUEX 2006: An ambitious three-day exercise held in May 2006 tested the state’s preparedness for handling a major health crisis and simultaneous terrorist attacks to help improve emergency planning and preparedness in Illinois. More than 50 representatives from state and federal agencies and the American Red Cross reported to the State Incident Response Center (SIRC) within the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Springfield to participate in the exercise.
· Prairie Thunder Exercise: The state conducted a major five-day emergency response exercise in the Metro East area to test the state’s ability to respond to large-scale emergencies which included a mass evacuation and sheltering component. The exercise brought federal, state and local response organizations together in a coordinated response to multiple emergency scenarios that included intelligence gathering and response to simulated terrorist attacks, distribution of materials from the Strategic National Stockpile, victim search and rescue efforts and establishment of a field hospital for treating “victims.”
· SNS Presentation: In February 2007 the Illinois SNS team presented at the Local, State and Federal Public Health Preparedness Summit in Washington, D.C. Illinois’ SNS team, selected from more than 300 submissions from public health officials nationwide, will provide insight on the state’s coordinated preparedness efforts in a presentation entitled, The Amazing SNS Race: Collaboration Between State Agencies to Get to the Finish. Illinois was selected to highlight its efforts because the state has achieved the highest ranking the past three years for its plan to use local health departments to dispense medications and supplies.