Emergency Preparedness: Notes from the field

Today is chempack sustainment day. What is the chempack? CHEMPACKs are containers of nerve agent antidotes placed in secure locations at local levels around the country to allow rapid response to a chemical incident. These medications treat the symptoms of nerve agent exposure and can be used even when the actual agent is unknown. Nerve agents are not just the stuff of the movies, but often things that are used routinely. A good example is the organophosphate pesticides that are used throughout agriculture. Overexposure can result in injury or death to humans.

Because these antidotes must be administered quickly, CDC’s CHEMPACK team maintains 1,960 containers strategically placed in more than 1,340 locations in the United States. More than 90 percent of the U.S. population is within one hour of a CHEMPACK location. Most are located in hospitals or fire stations selected by local authorities to support a rapid hazmat response and can be accessed quickly if hospitals or first responders need them.

The Peninsula Health District has two chempack containers located at hospitals and available to all the hospitals and EMS agencies if needed. A couple of times a year, the CDC visits each of the hospitals to replace the medications that are ready to expire.

To learn more about the chempack program, you may see the CDC’s website: https://www.cdc.gov/phpr/stockpile/chempack.htm

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