Oregon to use "push" strategy in the event of an attack

The Portland, Oregon, metropolitan area recently began using a push strategy plan for medicine distribution in case of an emergency, such as a biological terror attack.

The first models for dispensing medical countermeasures during an emergency relied on a pull strategy, where community members would travel to a large distribution center, like a school, to receive medication, according to EmergencyMgmt.com.

Experts say that a pull strategy can place unreasonable demands on public resources and may, in the end, restrict public access to health care.

Portland developed a partner registry to aid in identifying community partners that can dispense countermeasures in the 48 hours following a crisis. Partners include large employers, service providers for vulnerable people and planned responders such as critical infrastructure agencies.

Over the summer, partner sites in several Oregon and Washington counties participated in an exercise to test the efficiency of the push method, EmergencyMgmt.com reports. During the scenario, which included a simulated aerosolized anthrax attack, medical assets were distributed to local warehouses where they were picked up by the push partners.

Because the release of anthrax would most likely be discovered late in the window for effective treatment or prophylaxis, a large number of people would need to be given antibiotics immediately. Participants in the exercise lauded the response’s flexibility, organization, communication and cooperation.