Wednesday March 21, 2012
Mayor Greg Fischer, along with officials from the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the metro and state public health departments today announced an agreement whereby postal letter carriers would deliver life-saving medications to Louisville citizens in the event of a bioterrorist attack.
“Creating a safer city and a healthier city are two top priorities and this agreement puts us at the cutting edge of national efforts to protect our citizens,” Fischer said. “Louisville will become the national model in that our plan includes door-to-door delivery to citizens in both urban and rural ZIP Codes.”
“Louisville is one of only two cities in the U.S. to establish a plan under the National Postal Model,” said Edward J. Gabriel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Other cities across the country will be watching closely to learn how to apply this model in their own communities.”
Under the plan, postal letter carriers who have volunteered to participate in the program would deliver supplies of the antibiotic doxycycline to residential addresses throughout the Louisville metro area after a terrorist attack using an air-borne biological agent such as anthrax. The medication would be delivered within 48 hours of the attack.
“In the event of an attack, it would be important to get doxycyline to our citizens as quickly as possible – within 48 hours,” said Metro Public Health and Wellness director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt.
“If people inhale anthrax spores, bacteria can infect the lungs. Once the lungs are infected, the result can be extremely serious with a high fatality rate. Deaths from anthrax can be drastically reduced and in many instances disease can be avoided altogether if we get people started on antibiotics within 48 hours. This agreement allows us to do that,” said Dr. Nesbitt.
Quantities of antibiotics sufficient to treat the entire Louisville population would be delivered by the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from a supply known as the Strategic National Stockpile.
“During an emergency here, the Louisville mayor would request that the governor order needed supplies, in this case doxycyline, from the Strategic National Stockpile,” said Dr. Kraig Humbaugh, Director of Division of Epidemiology and Health Planning of the Kentucky Department for Public Health. “Using pre-established protocols, the Kentucky Department for Public Health would then contact the CDC to order up the medications. The medications would arrive in Louisville no later than twelve hours after they were requested, and probably much sooner.”
After arriving in Louisville the medications, guarded by Jefferson County Sheriff’s police and Corrections Department personnel, would be distributed to postal sites. From these sites, postal letter carrier volunteers would deliver the medications door-to-door throughout the Louisville metro area. Each postal carrier would be guarded by a Louisville metro police officer along the delivery route.
“I’d like to thank the city and rural letter carriers who volunteered to be part of this program,” said acting Louisville Postmaster Wendy English. “We signed up 322 volunteers, which far exceeded our expectations.”
“This is yet another way for our men and women in blue to prove what an asset they are to our nation,” said Allen Harris Jr., the president of Branch 14 of the National Association of Letter Carriers.
“When the Cities Readiness Initiative was first announced in 2004, the Postmaster General made the decision to allow our letter carriers to participate on a voluntary basis,” said Pat Mendonca, Senior Director for the Postmaster General. “What a great opportunity for our letter carriers in Louisville as well as the city itself to show the nation that it is prepared for this type of emergency.”
ATTENTION ASSIGNMENT EDITORS: Broadcast quality b-roll of postal letter carriers receiving and delivering medications door-to-door can be downloaded at http://uspsvideo.com/video/156/usps-medical-delivery-drill-b-roll