Plans to prepare for POD

About a dozen members of the community from emergency services, medical personnel, law enforcement, school, county, city, and development organizations attended an informational meeting about a plan to make Gettysburg a POD.

POD stands for Point of Dispensing, and Gettysburg was selected by the state to be one of 28 communities in South Dakota to be set up as a site in the event of a bio-terrorist or natural disease outbreak location to dispense vaccinations. 

The meeting was conducted by JoAnn Paulson of J. Paul Consulting, who is conducting programs across the state to help formulate the emergency response plans for communities. “We need everyone in the state to understand this plan,” she told the group at the Gettysburg Fire and Rescue hall on Friday afternoon. The POD program was started in 2005, and she described herself as “a doomsday prepper for the government,” adding that the information and preparation are for something that are hoped will never have to be used. She talked about instances where communities were faced with medical emergencies such as outbreaks of meningitis, TB, or H1N1 flu. “All are real, and necessary for community response,” she said, while also citing examples of non-medical emergencies that may have been storm related.

Gettysburg has been designated as a Level D POD, which is needed to serve 10,000 people in 48 hours. Both Potter and Faulk counties will be served by the POD. The goal of a POD is to be ready to receive and prepare to dispense medication and supplies on a limited scale within six hours of notice to activate, and to provide full-scale POD operations within 12 hours of activation notice, and to service the entire area’s population within 48 hours.

Potter County Emergency Manager Cheryl Sautner has worked with the POD and has a plan in place through her office, but updates and reviews are necessary to make sure contact information is kept current. Sautner has worked extensively with the county’s emergency services to organize disaster drills for emergency preparedness skills. The POD preparation is one more aspect of that.

Paulson explained that the information for the community readiness plan was being offered initially to help form a core group to meet at least one time a year, and ideally hold quarterly meetings, to develop the POD.

People do not need to be serving on an emergency response crew in order to help. Anyone can registers for to volunteer to help on a local, state, or national level. Contact Potter County EM Cheryl Sautner for more information, or check online at doh.sd.gov/providers/preparedness, and click to Volunteer option on the left of the screen.

-Molly McRoberts

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