186218 A Flexible and Scalable Point of Dispensing (POD) Model for Response to Public Health Emergencies

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:15 AM

Anthony Arakelian , Department of Public Health, Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA
Subsequent to a communicable disease outbreak or bioterrorism incident, public health emergency response will revolve around identifying the affected population, and providing prophylaxis to those affected or potentially affected by the agent.

Prophylaxis strategy revolves around the operation of Point of Dispensing (POD) sites. A POD site is a temporary mass dispensing site that is capable of providing medication to protect the general population from biological threats or epidemics.

Typical POD operational planning revolves around a set organizational structure and staffing level, which is loosely based on the principles of the Incident Command System (ICS) but does not take full advantage of the flexibility that is a cornerstone of ICS. Los Angeles County recently revised its POD model in order to create a flexible, scalable operation, based on standardized positions grouped into standardized teams. The staffing level can be scaled up or down based on the number of teams needed in the POD operation. Each POD site is considered its own incident, and each POD Manager is the Incident Commander at that site. This results in individual POD Managers having the authority to set the staffing level at their POD site, and to either request additional personnel or demobilize existing personnel to suit the needs of their POD.

Los Angeles County began with a POD model of 150 staff. Our new POD model includes flexible staffing that can range from a minimum of 46 to a maximum or 214 staff, with 76 staff being the average.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the use of the Incident Command System in response to public health emergencies. Describe how to scale a POD operation up or down depending on the needs of the incident. Discuss the importance of operational flexibility in conducting a POD operation.

Keywords: Bioterrorism, Emergency

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am well-versed in the Incident Command System and in emergency response, having spent 7 years working as an Emergency Medical Technician, and the past 3 years in Emergency Management. Currently I am tasked with Mass Prophylaxis Planning for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.