Pandemic Flu Exercise Rehearses Patient Surge

Date: February 21, 2007
Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health will conduct an eight-hour "tabletop" exercise at the Sheraton Conference Center in South Burlington, to test the state’s response when hospital bed capacity is overwhelmed during an influenza pandemic.

An influenza pandemic is a global outbreak that occurs when a new type of flu surfaces and rapidly spreads from person to person. At its peak, a widespread outbreak of pandemic influenza could affect one out of three Vermonters.

"The exercise will examine hospital bed capacity and provisions that could be made to use alternative sites for patient management," said Cort Lohff, MD, state epidemiologist for the Vermont Department of Health. "Our ability to manage a surge in patients will depend on our ability to organize resources."

The exercise will unfold within the City of Burlington and is designed to bring together key decision-makers from Vermont’s largest municipality. More than 80 state and municipal officials, hospital representatives, and community leaders are expected to attend the exercise.

Preventive measures to slow the spread of a possible pandemic will also be reviewed including anti-viral medications, isolation and quarantine. Three influenza pandemics have occurred during the 20th century, starting with the Spanish Flu of 1918-1919, that resulted in more than 500,000 deaths in the United States.

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