STAMFORD, Conn. — Health officials from across Fairfield County came together for a drill Thursday in Stamford to find out what it would take to hand out life-saving medication in a public health emergency.
They handed out Tic-Tacs instead of real medicine, but it was realistic enough to work out any kinks in the system, so the city would be prepared if a disaster were to strike, according to Stamford’s Public Health Emergency Response Coordinator Elizabeth Rodriguez.
“The great thing about this training exercise — it will help us identify any gaps or areas of improvement that we would need to modify our plans to effectively and safely distribute medications to the population here in Stamford,” Rodriguez said.
While the drill was held just at Stamford High School, Rodriguez said the city would have multiple locations where citizens could pick up medication in the event of an actual emergency.
Speaking a little more than halfway through the drill, Rodriguez said she already knew the exercise had been immensely helpful.
“We’ve identified some areas for improvement, which is ideally what we want,” Rodriguez said. “And I love that it is a learning experience because it’s not only my staff, but it’s other health departments working together. So everybody’s learning from one another.”
Health department staff from Greenwich, Norwalk, Darien, Westport, Stratford, Trumbull, Monroe, and Fairfield participated in the exercise as well, according to officials.
Rodriguez said that in an emergency, those who visit a location where officials are dispensing medication can pick up doses for others, whether it be a parent, child, nanny or elderly neighbor.
During the drill, over 300 volunteers filled out paperwork identifying the individuals who needed medication and any allergy they might have to medication the department was “dispensing.”
Many Stamford High School students and staff members served as volunteers for the drill, which was held in the school’s gymnasium.
In an actual incident, Rodriguez said those forms will be available online and citizens should fill them out before reaching a dispensing location, if possible. Forms will also be translated into Spanish, she said.
Behavioral health professionals would also be available at a medication dispensing location in the case of an actual incident to help individuals who may be agitated or extremely nervous.
Some actors played the role of individuals who needed additional assistance. “They did ad-libbing, which was really good,” Rodriguez said.
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