NEWS

Reports on USPS Bioattack Response Exercise Forthcoming

By Carlton Purvis

Local officials are still working to put together their findings from a drill aimed at testing the response capability of a program that would utilize postal service workers to deliver medical countermeasures after a biological attack.

The final report may be released in two versions--a public version and a version for public health, law enforcement, and United State Postal Service officials, said a Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) official.

The exercise, Operation Medicine Delivery, which took place in May, was the first test run of the program. Forty teams made up of one postal worker and one law enforcement escort delivered simulated medications to more than 35,000 households in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

Officials were hesitant to release exact numbers, noting that it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before an evaluation of the exercise was complete. However, initial reactions indicate the operation was a success.

Most households in the designated ZIP codes were reached, said Buddy Ferguson, a spokesman for the MDH after the exercise. Postal workers only missed 76 households because heavy rains left a road inaccessible by vehicles, according to initial field reports.

“The little wrinkle we have run into here is that the after action report (which, as I understand it, is still in draft form) will most likely be deemed to be non-public, on the basis that it contains ‘security data.’ We are working on a ‘public’ version of the document, which we hope to have available soon,” Ferguson said by e-mail on Thursday.

This summer, the program will be tested in five additional cities.


photo by RobBixbyPhotography

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