Garrison, tenant units prepare for H1N1 scenarios

To help prepare for the increase in confirmed H1N1 influenza cases in the Stuttgart military community, the U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart conducted a pandemic influenza table top exercise at the Swabian Special Events Center Oct. 29.

The exercise, which involved leaders from the garrison, health clinic, schools and tenant units focused on a pandemic that affects the community.

After the group of about 70 people was given an overview of the impact that the H1N1 influenza has had around the world and in the European community, the group was then presented with three scenarios, ranging from handling an increase of confirmed cases to handling hundreds of confirmed cases.

“The overall purpose of the exercise was to gain an understanding of the issues that the USAG Stuttgart community is likely to face during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. This exercise addressed several very important issues, including risk communication and community education, H1N1 vaccine distribution, and H1N1 case management,” said Christina Jackson, pandemic influenza health educator, U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine. “This exercise gave all partners the opportunity to test their plans in a no-risk environment and determine what areas need to be improved upon.”

The second scenario, in which a large number of children were H1N1 positive, seemed to ignite the group.

“This scenario really got the group talking because we have many single parents or dual-employed parents within the community,” said Ron Kirkemo, U.S. Army Garrison Stuttgart, Installation Emergency Manager.

 “We discussed children staying home when they are sick, as well as the policies governing how parents would be able to remain at home to care for their children. We also found that not all emergency contact information at schools or Child Development Centers is up-to-date, which creates problems when notifying parents of sick children.”

The working group will continue to meet and discuss the situation.

“It’s important to realize that while we are in a pandemic, it has been mainly mild to moderate in most cases,” said Jackson. “The working group will continue to engage the community so everyone understands what they need to do at the individual level to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

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