An unprecedented pandemic outbreak drill was held on Wednesday at Marine Corps Air Station New River. Military units reportedly ran drills responding to a mock smallpox outbreak, which had started on the base itself, The Daily News of Jacksonville, North Carolina reports.
(MCAS New River is home to the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft)
“The drills are usually conducted annually or semi-annually… A drill this size has never been conducted, so this is the largest pandemic exercise to my knowledge,” said Lt. Joseph Kotora, who serves as the public health emergency officer for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune.
The pandemic training regimen was named Exercise Vigilant Response.
(Photo Credit: Adelina Colbert, JDNews)
Military officials decided during the drill to administer some 1,200 actual flu shots, which represented the mock-pandemic’s vaccine, because they believed it would help them accurately get a sense of the timing of a real-life outbreak scenario. The medical team on base said they were able to successfully deliver 700 flu shots during the first couple hours of the drill.
Lt. Kotora said regarding the exercise: “This is a simulated exercise designed to test our capabilities and respond to a pandemic or biological threat. We’re trying to identify some areas where we can improve and we’re also trying to foster some confidence in the population that we serve … that we can respond effectively to a mass terror or a weapon of mass destruction incident.”