The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) called upon Oak Grove Technologies’ Readiness Support Center to put together a pandemic flu outbreak scenario for the city of Seattle, Washington. The H5N1 virus strain has already launched the worst bird flu outbreak in the recorded history of the poultry industry. So far, the H5N1 virus has killed over 60% of the known human cases, 24 times the estimated case-fatality rate in the flu pandemic of 1918. If H5N1 viruses gain the ability for efficient and sustained transmission among humans, an influenza pandemic could result, with potentially high rates of illness and mortality worldwide.
The purpose of this exercise was to:
- Facilitate understanding of core concepts
- Identify the strengths and shortfalls of current health, medical, and emergency response protocols and capabilities
- Educate key personnel in proper pandemic containment techniques and recovery requirements
Oak Grove was tasked to develop the primary training materials, develop a video scenario, and all associated graphics and supporting materials for this Seattle Pandemic Table Top Exercise (TTX). In this scenario-based TTX, an accelerated pandemic outbreak timeline was developed to simulate the required response protocols, treatment and containment challenges, and identified secondary pandemic-related challenges realistically. The training plan called for a facilitated open discussion of known issues and shortfalls, current pandemic response capabilities, roles and responsibilities, as well as a review of the decision protocols and follow-up actions required to best contain the H5N1 flu virus from spreading nationwide and beyond.
It is possible that a novel strain of Influenza virus would first appear world-wide in Seattle without much warning. There would be little, if no time to prepare. Seattle does not currently stockpile an inventory of pandemic strain vaccine or anti-viral medications. There is no way of knowing how quickly the virus would spread, nor can anyone predict how many more would die from the collapse of society—from riots, from other diseases (with hospitals unable to function and medicines unattainable), or from shortages of food, energy, or potable water.
Based on research and historical data, Oak Grove’s USACE Readiness Support Center personnel developed training materials to better increase the medical and emergency responder’s overall preparedness for a pandemic flu outbreak in Seattle. We created a scenario-based video and informational PowerPoint presentation to facilitate the open discussion on the processes and procedures necessary to take in order to best contain the H5N1 virus, if an outbreak should ever occur in Seattle, Washington. Overall, the training and supporting materials helped to identify current response strengths, identify gaps in processes and procedures, and increased the overall awareness of the potential for outbreak and the required medical community’s response to a potential flu pandemic.