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Trial Run of Rapid-Response Program Gets Medical Supplies to NYC in 7 Hours. ('Push Packages').

A new rapid-response program within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that provides truckloads of medical supplies to disaster sites was activated for the first time in response to the terrorist attack on New York.

The two-tiered National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NPS) program was created 2 years ago as part of a CDC plan to prepare for a bioterrorist attack. The first tier of the program deploys "12-hour push packages" that are designed to arrive at any location in the United States within 12 hours. The second tier releases additional pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

One "push package" actually includes several truckloads of prepackaged pharmaceuticals, intravenous supplies, airway supplies, bandages, dressings, and other materials. These supplies are cached in eight undisclosed storage facilities around the country. A push package arrived in New York 7 hours after it was requested, a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said. The city called in the request at 2 p.m., and it arrived at 9 p.m. The supplies were received by the New York City Department of Health and distributed through local authorities. Eleven technical assistants from HHS accompanied the package to New York.

"Our emergency resources stand ready to be provided quickly to those who need them," HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson said in a press release.

The NPS program is not considered to be a first-response tool but, rather, a backup and support system for medical personnel already on site, according to Dr. James M. Hughes, director of the CDC's National Center for Infectious Diseases, testifying earlier this year before the House subcommittee on national security, veterans' affairs, and international relations.

Inventory included in the push packages undergoes regularly scheduled quality assurance checks to make sure it is accounted for and secure. CDC has negotiated contracts with commercial cargo carriers to deliver the push packages via ground or air at a moment's notice.
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Author:Peters, Sally
Publication:OB GYN News
Date:Oct 15, 2001
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