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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498

Date: April 19, 2013


Dover, Delaware - The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness section (EMSPS) hosted a two-part exercise on Wednesday, April 17, and Thursday, April 18, 2013. The exercises were based upon a fictional anthrax release and are part of a multi-year practice drill series required by the CDC and designed to enhance Delaware's public health response.

The Division of Public Health EMSPS is charged with developing, implementing, and maintaining a comprehensive program to prepare for, respond to, and recover from public health threats and emergencies.

Day one of the State Health Operations Center (SHOC) functional exercise focused on the epidemiology surveillance and DPH Laboratory (DPHL) procedures. The lab is responsible for receiving and testing any suspected anthrax samples. The job of the state epidemiologist is to determine the source of the outbreak. The drill tested how samples are collected, tested, and interpreted by DPH staff. The fictional test results were then reported to SHOC, led by Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director.

Day two of the exercise tested the response of DPH leadership and SHOC staff to the determination made by the state epidemiologist and lab the previous day. The fictional "day" started after the anthrax was confirmed. SHOC staff determined next steps (including asking the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] to release additional antibiotic doses from their stockpile), as well as how to communicate with the public and partners on medication needs; and protective measures for medical providers staff. DPH SHOC also determined where antibiotic distribution centers would be set in Delaware and continued to monitor the number of additional anthrax cases within the state. The exercise ended after the request for additional antibiotics was accepted by the CDC.

The exercise included federal, state, and local stakeholders and will be evaluated by an external contractor. The evaluation is used for constructive improvements to the public health preparedness program and to meet federal grant requirements. The next steps in the drill are planned for spring 2014.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.