Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Transportation Security Plan tested in North Georgia
(DALTON, GA) – The local Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Transportation Security Plan was tested on Thursday, January 8 in a functional exercise led by staff of North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia State Patrol. Emergency Management Agency (EMA) officials, law enforcement agents, and public health staff in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties participated in the exercise by standing up each county's Emergency Operations Center (EOC).
"The Strategic National Stockpile, or SNS, is a federally maintained cache of medical assets that would be available to local health districts if assets needed to respond to a public health crisis become depleted within the state," said David Huskey, emergency preparedness director for the North Georgia Health District. "For years, we have worked with our community partners to develop our plan for receiving these assets and distributing them to local temporary points of dispensing. It’s necessary to actually exercise the plan to test its strengths and weaknesses."
It is important to exercise each part of a plan, according to Robby Westbrook, deputy director of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management and facilitator of the exercise. Westbrook said, “Each aspect of even the best written plan should be tested to make sure everything comes together in the way it’s spelled out. This exercise went very well. All six counties of the health district participated and all met the objectives for each individual area of the plan."
Charles Braxton, exercise coordinator for the Georgia Department of Public Health, said other health districts throughout the state will benefit from Thursday’s exercise. “They will get to see how capably a well-written and well-exercised security and transportation plan can function,” stated Braxton. “In observing this exercise, it was apparent that the partners involved have a very clear and competent understanding of security transportation provisions in the plan and are more than prepared to execute those provisions as needed in a real event.”
Georgia State Patrol Lt. Don Stultz helped coordinate the exercise from the health district’s emergency operations center, and exercise observers and evaluators included Shaun Brand of Northwest Georgia Health District 1-1, based in Rome, and both Peggy Monkus and Kim Townsend of District 4 Public Health, based in LaGrange.