Michigan Holds Bioterrorism Exercise

June 3, 2003

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that an emergency preparedness bioterrorism exercise is taking place to test Michigan’s responsiveness to provide life-saving medicines and equipment to the public in the event of an actual emergency. 

The Michigan Department of Community Health, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Michigan State Police, the Ingham County Health Department, the Barry-Eaton District Health Department, the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, and many other local and federal partners are participating in the exercise. 

“This exercise is so important to further refine our level of preparedness here in Michigan,” said Governor Granholm.  “I am confident that in the unlikely event a terrorist response ever becomes necessary, these exercises will ensure that Michigan is prepared to keep our families safe.”

The exercise involves the request and receipt of a portion of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) which ensures the availability and rapid deployment of life-saving pharmaceuticals, antidotes, medical supplies and equipment necessary to counter the effects of nerve agents, biological pathogens and chemical agents.

“In the event of a real emergency, there is great potential to quickly deplete available medical supplies in the state,” said Michigan Department of Community Health Director Janet Olszewski.  “During an emergency, Michigan can request and, within 12 hours, receive Strategic National Stockpile supplies to enable a community to continue administering medical treatment.”

The purpose of the SNS exercise is to test state and local ability to provide life-saving medicines and supplies to the public in the event of a large-scale community emergency.  During the SNS exercise, large numbers of simulated antibiotics, vaccines, antidotes and other medical supplies will be delivered to the State of Michigan.  State and local partners will be testing their ability to receive, breakdown, distribute and dispense the contents of the SNS.

“The partnerships that exist between agencies at the state, local, and federal level play an integral role in events like this,” said Michigan State Police Director Col. Tadarial J. Sturdivant.  “They will enable us to provide a much more complete response to any future threats to our citizens.”

“The receipt of the Strategic National Stockpile further enhances our state's preparedness and brings our readiness to a new level,” said Advisor for Homeland Security Colonel Michael McDaniel.

The exercise includes a mock bioterrorism attack.  Approximately 800 people will participate in the exercise.  Many will act like victims; others will be workers in the emergency operation centers and at the dispensing sites.  The exercise will be prompted by an influx of symptomatic patients at local medical facilities. 

The public exposed to the biological agent will be informed to go to a mass dispensing site location to receive medicines, supplies and healthcare.  Local health departments and community partners have been vital in the efforts to respond locally in the event of an emergency.   The Jack Breslin Student Events Center at Michigan State University and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department are serving as mass dispensing site locations.  Additional sites receiving supplies from the stockpile are Sparrow Health System and Ingham Regional Medical Center.

“It is important that we continue to strengthen homeland security through exercises like this with our tri-county partners,” said Leonard Peters, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Eaton County.  “There is no such thing as too much preparedness when the health and welfare of people are at stake.”  

“We appreciate the public’s volunteering and involvement in the preparation for   something we hope never happens, “said Calvin Lynch, Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Ingham County.

“This exercise would not be possible without the efforts of over 100 Clinton County volunteers,” said Larry Martin, Vice Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of Clinton County.  “The location of the simulation demonstrates that an event can happen anywhere.”
 
The SNS is built on the assumption that a natural disaster or a biological/chemical terrorism incident has the potential to rapidly strain, if not deplete, local or state medical supplies.  During such an emergency, Michigan can request and receive SNS assistance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These supplies would arrive within 12 hours and enable a community to be self-sufficient during the 48 to 72 hours before additional federal assistance arrives. 
Conducting emergency preparedness exercises is critical to Michigan’s preparedness efforts and ensures that federal, state, and local level capacity is developed.  State and local partners will assess the strengths and weaknesses of their response plans and capabilities. 

Additional information on homeland security is available online at http://www.michigan.gov/homeland, and information on bioterrorism is available at www.michigan.gov/mdch by clicking on Michigan Office of Public Health Preparedness or by calling the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention hotlines:  English (888) 246-2675, Espanol (888) 246-2857, TTY (866) 874-2646.