CCDC participates in training sessions called 'Medical Countermeasures Exercises' in coordination with the Medical Counter Measures (MCM) Planning team once or twice a year. The purpose of these Exercises is to simulate a serious county situation that requires the participation of all county stakeholders and volunteers to raise their hand and say that they are available to assist with the public health emergency. Here is a little background information to explain how this works. 

The Simulation

  • Members of various stakeholder groups in Delaware County are alerted to a public health emergency that may potentially need activation of the Medical Countermeasures program.  
  • The MCM  program is activated. 
  • The Medical Counter Measures Operations Center (MOC) at the 911 Center or another location within the county to set up monitoring stations that survey the ongoing development of the situation to coordinate among them all. 
  • The Department of Emergency Services (DES), and specifically the Medical Countermeasures Team (Ed Kline & Janet Barton) and Special Operations Team (Tom Morgan, Danielle Koerner, and additional Special Operations Team members) 
  • CCDC Leadership 
  • County Council  
  • County & Regional Stakeholders who have previously been identified as being part of the MCM program.  

This group sends out a message to the volunteers to find out who is willing to help in a two-day event, for example. The text message will provide the volunteer with choices such as: 

  1. I am available for Day1  
  2. I am available for Day2  
  3. I am not available to participate for either day. 

You are only letting the team know if and when you are available to help. As this is an Exercise, this is NOT Deployment

  1. Once you respond to the text message; the Exercise Team wants you to then respond to the Exercise Mission in Galaxy on the day that you said you are willing to volunteer. We ask you to respond as soon as possible… as though this were a real emergency. This mission data helps with the evaluation of volunteer resources and allows additional resources to be called upon if needed. 

AGAIN, you are only letting the team know if and when you are available to help. DO NOT DEPLOY TO ANY LOCATION! 

There are several parts of this Exercise that will include new components that we incorporated during the pandemic response. One of these is the Galaxy platform that you have been using to sign up for Missions. Galaxy allows the available volunteers to respond to the mission developed for the Exercise, and the Exercise Team can then see the identity of the available volunteers and ascertain the skills, knowledge and talent resources they can use during the Exercise and what days those resources are available.  

This Exercise is based upon a very short window of opportunity to mobilize available volunteers into a venue that will dispense and distribute the simulated medicine for families and households. 

H1N1 and COVID-19

examples of an MCM response that developed and evolved over a LONG period of time

ANTHRAX (or similar)

near ZERO time to think about it…immediate response required!  

·        Lots of time to think about it

·        Follow pre-planned processes and procedures

·        Lots of time for the "good idea fairy" to work

·        Use pre-planned and on-hand supplies and materials

·        "Opportunity" to follow a different plan, operate with different partners, etc.

·        Execute distribution via pre-trained processes

·        Execute dispensing via pre-planned and trained partners and locations!

There is a definite distinction in these two scenarios: In the event of a short "flash-bang" response…executing via our pre-planned processes, locations, and teammates is our ONLY chance of success!  Volunteers are the backbone of ANY scenario and based on the responses from us, the Exercise Team will develop different plans that reflect the responses that they receive from the texts. Depending on the percentages of volunteers who can help, the plan will be created to handle the crisis. If there are not enough volunteers to help with the problem, then the Exercise Team will come up with other personnel solutions that backfill what they expected the volunteer numbers to be. Those volunteers who did respond might be assigned certain responsibilities based on their experience within in the planning stage. 

The Result of the Exercise Simulation: 

This Exercise provides the MCM and other stakeholders the opportunity to validate their plans, modify them, brainstorm different options, and overall be better prepared to mitigate the crisis. 

This Exercise is no different than what we have gone through for the past couple of years with the pandemic. What is important about the exercise is that it gives the Exercise Team an idea of what resources they can count on. It is similar to when we do not have enough appointments for Venue A, so let's just keep Venue B open and redirect the appointments to a different location; or we do not have enough volunteers for two shifts so let's change the time to mid-day and use the volunteers we do have more efficiently. 

Please participate to give the MCM training meaning and value. It was the basis of our success with the pandemic. Make sure that you have set your phone up in ServPA to receive sms/texts. Thank you! 

Danielle Koerner BS, Paramedic
Volunteer Management Coordinator
Department of Emergency Services
Special Operations
County of Delaware
360 N. Middletown Road
Media, PA 19063