(Accomac, Va.) On Tuesday, October 17th, the staffs of the Eastern Shore Health District (ESHD) and Eastern Shore Rural Health (ESRH) exercised emergency preparedness plans at the Onley Community Health Center in Onley, Virginia. Using a scenario endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 120 workers from both of the organizations, as well as Accomack County Sheriff’s Office, and volunteers from Eastern Shore Community Emergency Response Team (ESCERT) and Eastern Shore Medical Reserve Corp (ESMRC) rehearsed the opening of a Neighborhood Emergency Help Center (NEHC) where they practiced dispensing preventive medications to the exposed.

The Eastern Shore Health District has partnered with Eastern Shore Rural Health since 2004 and exercised mass dispensing annually at community health centers located strategically throughout the Eastern Shore in order to be best prepared to handle a “mass exposure to a biological weapon” type of event that might require a large number of people to seek treatment in a limited window of time. In a real event medication will arrive to the Eastern Shore from the United States Strategic National Stockpile which must be dispensed to all who need it within 48 hours, according to the plan. Evaluators from both organizations provide suggestions for improvement and all participants are encouraged to provide feedback in order to improve the process at each location.


Both organizations are members of the Eastern Shore Disaster Preparedness Coalition (ESDPC). The ESDPC is a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional emergency preparedness and planning group that works to promote emergency planning, training, exercising and response activities on the Eastern Shore. Any organization or interested citizen may become a member of the ESDPC. For more information on the ESDPC or to become a member, please contact J.J. Justis at JJ.Justis@vdh.virginia.gov or 757-302-4267.