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Exercise tests medical group response to health emergency

Exercise tests medical group response to health emergency

Cathy Williams, an Ehrling Berquist Clinic volunteer from the American Red Cross, administers influenza vaccine to Staff Sgt. John Arps, 55th Security Forces Squadron, at a Point of Distribution exercise held Oct. 19 at the Community Center on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The exercise tested the 55th Medical Group’s ability to administer mass quantities of medicine in the event of a health emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Exercise tests medical group response to health emergency

Service members and TRICARE eligible civilians receive influenza vaccinations at a Point of Distribution exercise held Oct. 19 at the Community Center on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The exercise tested the 55th Medical Group’s ability to administer mass quantities of medicine in the event of a health emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Exercise tests medical group response to health emergency

Senior Airman Nathan Setzler, 55th Aerospace Medical Squadron, administers influenza vaccine to Airman 1st Class Monique Henry from the 55th Services Squadron at a Point of Distribution exercise held Oct. 19 at the Community Center on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The exercise tested the 55th Medical Group’s ability to administer mass quantities of medicine in the event of a health emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

Exercise tests medical group response to health emergency

Service members and TRICARE eligible civilians update immunization records prior to receiving influenza vaccinations at a Point of Distribution exercise held Oct. 19 at the Community Center on Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The exercise tested the 55th Medical Group’s ability to administer mass quantities of medicine in the event of a health emergency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Delanie Stafford)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Nebraska --

The 55th Medical Group conducted a Point of Distribution exercise here Oct. 19 to test their ability to rapidly administer medicine to the base populous in the event of a pandemic or health emergency.

The POD exercise provided valuable training for more than 70 medical personnel who participated in the exercise that evaluated their efficiency.

“If a national disaster were to occur where we had to vaccinate a lot of people or give a lot of medications to people very quickly, we would use this process to get them through,” said Staff Sgt. Kristeen Ann Schooler, an aerospace medical service technician and the NCO in charge of the allergies and immunizations clinic.

In addition to training, it provided an opportunity to vaccinate base personnel on a large scale.

“The POD is actually a base-wide exercise and we step in to use it as a real-time event to administer flu vaccines,” Schooler said. “The patients come in the front door, they get triaged by our nurses, they stop at the [Aeromedical Services Information Management System] to get their shot records updated, and we chauffeur them to one of the tables where they receive their vaccination. The whole process should take less than 15 minutes, right now it’s been taking less than three minutes.”

Altogether, 3,413 Offutt personnel received the influenza vaccination during the one-day exercise, which was held from 5 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the Patriot Club. That was the most vaccinations ever administered during a POD exercise at Offutt, which have been held here since 2008.

Officials from the medical readiness office said the POD exercise was a success.

“We tested several of our components to the POD program and everything seemed to go well,” said Jan Fink, 55th Medical Group readiness manager. “Our public health staff were right there along with our patient administration technicians, our pharmacy staff and our mental health staff…I thought they did a great job and moved [Offutt personnel] through pretty quickly.”

Fink said the time to process through the line averaged just over two minutes.

Those who were stopping by during the lunch time hours said the line was very well organized.

“It was super efficient, super fast,” said Airman Nicholas Johnson, 55th Security Forces Squadron. “I got in here a minute ago and got out.”

Airman 1st Class Monique Henry from the 55th Force Support Squadron said her experience was mostly positive as well.

“I expected it to be longer but it actually when by pretty quick,” she said. “I just don’t like flu shots.”

Offutt conducts a POD exercise every year but only incorporates flu vaccinations about every other year.

Schooler said the mass flu vaccinations take a lot of the burden off of the allergies and immunization clinic, which administers approximately 14,000 flu vaccinations per year.

She said October-November is the best timeframe to get your flu vaccination. It is also an annual requirement for service members.

Immunizations are available for service members and TRICARE-eligible beneficiaries at the immunization clinic on a walk in basis Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except when the clinic is closed for federal holidays, Air Combat Command down days or training days. For more information, contact the immunization clinic at 294-7310.