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Adelina Colbert

October 8, 2014 at 05:08 PM.

Service members participate in the full-scale Vigilant Response exercise, which simulates a pandemic smallpox outbreak at Marine Corps Air Station New River. Roughly 1,500 personnel from New River, Camp Lejeune, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, and the Onslow County Department of Public Health and Emergency Services participated in the exercise, and members received their annual flu vaccinations during the simulation.

Adelina Colbert By Adelina Colbert -
October 8, 2014 at 05:08 PM.

Marine Corps Air Station New River on Wednesday held a full-scale pandemic outbreak drill where health officials and Marines responded to a smallpox outbreak that “occurred” aboard the installation. 

According to Lt. Joseph Kotora, the public health emergency officer for Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, the Exercise Vigilant Response drill was the first of its kind at a military installation in North Carolina. 

“The drills are usually conducted annually or semi-annually,” said Kotora. “A drill this size has never been conducted, so this is the largest pandemic exercise to my knowledge.” 

Officials decided to incorporate administering inoculations during the exercise so that it would more accurately portray an outbreak situation where medical personnel would be required to screen and administer vaccinations.

During the exercise, Marines from various squadrons aboard the station formed single file lines and filled out forms before getting their body temperatures taken by Navy corpsmen. From there, each Marine enters the building also known as the Point of Dispersion, or POD, where flu shots were given out.

The exercise had on hand about 1,200 flu shots available to active-duty Marines aboard New River. Kotora said medical personnel administered approximately 700 flu shots to Marines during the first couple of hours of the exercise.

“This is a simulated exercise designed to test our capabilities and respond to a pandemic or biological threat,” he said. “ … We’re trying to identify some areas where we can improve and we’re also trying to foster some confidence in the population that we serve … that we can respond effectively to a mass terror or a weapon of mass destruction incident.”



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