The New Mexico Department of Health is conducting an exercise to meet The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines to ensure that New Mexico is prepared to respond to a public health emergency.

The main exercise will be based at The University of New Mexico’s Johnson Center Wednesday, March 18 to test and showcase the process for a Point of Dispensing (POD). PODs can be used in a number of ways to distribute products or dispense medication to a large group of people during an emergency. In this drill, the POD will practice dispensing emergency medication (prophylaxis) during a public health incident. Media is invited to take photos and video from 1 to 2 p.m. the day of the exercise at UNM’s Johnson Center.

“We conduct exercises very frequently, but often times they blend into the day-to-day activities,” said Robert Perry, manager of emergency preparedness for the University of New Mexico Hospital. “For instance, our POD plan is exercised every time we have a flu vaccine clinic, including our drive-through clinics each fall.”

Emergency exercises are an important part of public health preparedness as they help identify strengths and areas for improvement. They also offer an opportunity to practice plans and procedures that are in place to protect New Mexico in the event of a potential public health risk. 

“The University has a broad array of emergency plans which are exercised on a regular basis,” said Emergency Manager Byron Piatt. “This is a good opportunity for the media to see one of our more public displays.”

Many of the “players” for the exercise will come from the UNM Colleges of Nursing and Pharmacy. Students will get a hands-on disaster response training without having to experience the disaster. Other players will include the University’s Campus Community Emergency Response Team (CCERT).

“The CCERT is comprised of students, faculty and staff who have been trained to assist during an incident or a planned event,” said Piatt.  “We’ve taught the CCERT course for the last four semesters and have trained about 70 people.”

The Department is partnering with The University of New Mexico, University of  New Mexico Hospital, the New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and the City Readiness Initiative Partners for this exercise. The City Readiness Initiative partners include the City of Albuquerque, City of Rio Rancho, Bernalillo County, Sandoval County, Torrance County, Valencia County, Cochiti Pueblo, Isleta Pueblo, Jemez Pueblo, Pueblo of Sandia, San Felipe Pueblo, Santa Ana Pueblo, Santo Domingo Pueblo and Zia Pueblo.