N.H. Air National Guard practices anthrax vaccination simulation

Nearly 1,000 members of the New Hampshire Air National Guard received flu shots to help prepare for a large a scale outbreak during a four hour simulated drill on November 6.

The drill was intended to represent the role the guard would as first-responders in a real anthrax situation, according to SeaCoastOnline.com.

A Point of Dispensing operations unit was set up on the grounds of the New Hampshire Air National Guard’s Pease base and its members were processed through what was described as a mass dispensing scenario. Eight hundred members were actually administered flu shots instead of the anthrax vaccine.

"We plan it out and make it come to life," Lt. Col. Paul Loiselle, commander of the 157th Medical Group, said, accordingto SeaCoastOnline.com. "Today we're trying to compact the dispensing over a very short time frame. We're trying to get people done quickly because in the event of a disaster, the key ends up being speed. Time is of the essence. You're working against the clock."

In addition to the New Hampshire Air National Guard, the exercise included eight of the state’s 15 Public Health Regions. It was designed to test the state’s Strategic National Stockpile, Cities Readiness Initiative, Multi-Agency Coordinating Entity and Point of Dispensing plans. Should the drill be considered a success, it could be applied to a national disaster or terrorist attack scenario.

During the weekend drill, the guardsman represented first-responders, SeaCoastOnline.com reports, who would typically receive the anthrax vaccine first, so that they would be protected while helping members of the public.

Evaluators from the New Hampshire Department of Safety & Homeland Security and Emergency Management watched the event and will provide a review and improvement plans within a month’s time.