Pandemic exercise trains, provides flu vaccines
by Bradley Hartsell
The Coweta County Health Department participated in a training event on Oct. 11 that provided flu vaccines to the region’s public service personnel at the Coweta County Fairgrounds. All 12 counties in District 4 Health Services were represented.
A series of tents in the parking lot — a pod — served as a drive-thru flu shot clinic. Personnel from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office, the fire department, and the Water and Sewerage Authority participated in order to prepare the public services and public health in the case of a pandemic, as well as to provide local first responders with proper vaccinations.
Flu season started in October, and with the cold months approaching, Coweta’s Emergency Management director and coordinator of the pod, Jay Jones, said the county must be prepared in case of an emergency.
“If we had a true pandemic, this exercise is practice for the procedure of administering vaccines,” Jones said.
The tent workers were made up of nurses, administration staff and people from Coweta Health Department, with stations to issue paperwork, another to check paperwork, and the final station for administering the vaccine. The drive-thru process took between 5-7 minutes.
The vaccines were not open to the public and while activity at the stations wasn’t overly active, a steady stream of personnel continued rolling in throughout the day.
“We’ve had good participation, in terms of people coming through,” said Jones during the recent event.
Despite the downtime of the event, the coordination covered every detail in case of an emergency.
Randy Mercer ran the amateur radio emergency service, which communicates between counties and departments via HAM radios in the case of a loss or overload of communication services. For the vaccination pod, the radio emergency service ran mock communications in order to simulate the actual process of relaying information in case of an emergency.
Piedmont Newnan Hospital performed simulations to test its ability to handle a sudden surge of patients.
According to Jones, the Coweta Health Department has planned this event for six months. The pod ran for 12 hours, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., to accommodate as many personnel as possible. Hayla Folden, a risk communicator for District 4, was pleased with turnout and the efficiency everyone involved displayed. “It’s good practice for everyone,” she said.