Dan R


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Note: Pertains to the United States only.

Know what a POD is? First I heard of it, I thought of the cheesy horror flick.

But on closer examination, it is the acronym for points of dispensing.

Dispensing what?

The CDC has put in place a Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement with state and local governments so that in the event of a public emergency, a mechanism is in place so that medication from the Strategic National Stockpile is distributed and dispensed in the event of an emergency. The most common event modeled is an anthrax attack where people would need medication within 48 hours if they are expected to survive.

It works like this. An anthrax event occurs, by listening to the radio or watching TV, you would be directed to what is called an Open POD in your area. An Open POD accepts anyone from the community and distributes medication to them and their family.

Somewhere in the process of hashing out the specifics, someone realized that having all New Yorkians or Philadelphians showing up at one place and getting their meds in the prescribed time period is an awfully daunting task.

So the idea of a Closed POD came to be. A Closed POD is a large sub-community that set up a structure that impresses the CDC and other powers to be. The rationale is straightforward. In the event if an anthrax-type event, a Closed POD could minister to their populace quicker and with less commotion (smaller population base and presumably away from the roads feeding the Open PODS). This would lessen the strain on the Open PODs if enough Closed PODs operate. This, in turn, would allow the Open POD to administer more doses quickly. Theoretically, of course.

To some degree, cynical humor creeps in. In the event of an emergency, the Strategic National Stockpile now needs to deliver to more than one distribution center. On the other hand, I can’t think that Closed POD volunteers are any less capable of dealing with this than government bureaucrats.

And all of the models are based on anthrax. While I could envision such an attack, it would have to be limited due to the way it spreads. An attack in one part of the state may not be felt elsewhere.

So why bring it up?

I just attended a Closed POD meeting. It was sobering when you think of it. But I did cringe when someone asked what if the drugs had expired. Fortunately, the moderator provided a pleasant answer before I could say, “Dude, we got them straight from the Strategic National Stockpile. If they are expired, we are f*cked.” Almost as entertaining was the “…why can’t I get my training now?” Hmmm. Let’s see. If we trained you tomorrow on how to direct traffic to different lanes depending on needs (language, showing illness, etc.), would you a) remember if we needed you four years from now and b), what if we have enough traffic people and need a form filler. This is an emergency after all.

It is a volunteer-based group. They have talked to over 300 people in hopes that if the Close POD is activated, they will get close to 50 to work a full day.

Interesting times.
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