BERLIN — Don’t be alarmed if you see several local police cars, fire trucks, and New Hampshire state vehicles steering through town on Saturday, April 13, and gathering at Berlin High School. There will be an exercise (drill) taking place to test and improve the Berlin region’s overall preparedness for an emergency event.

The exercise is fictional and will simulate a bio-terrorism event requiring Berlin area residents to receive antibiotics. The scope of this initiative is a collaborative effort between several organizations from the local and state levels, including: the city of Berlin (emergency management, SAU 3 and police and fire departments); the towns of Gorham and Milan; North Country Public Health Network — North Country Health Consortium; N.H. Department of Health and Human Services; and N.H. Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

In the event of an actual public health emergency that would require providing protective medications or vaccinations to residents, regional dispensing clinics, known as “PODs” would be open to area residents. The exercise on April 13 will run and test the Berlin region’s POD, which is located at Berlin High School. During the drill, medical and emergency personnel, volunteers and other staff will simulate receiving and providing antibiotics. The incident is not real; however, response activities during the fictional exercise will be practiced in a manner that is as realistic as possible.

The location of the exercise at Berlin High School will be clearly marked. For the safety of the community and in order to complete the exercise in a realistic environment, the exercise area will not be open to the general public. However, any community members who are interested in participating in the drill are welcome to volunteer as “actors” to walk through the POD and simulate receiving antibiotics. All actors, including their family members, must be pre-registered in order to participate. Anyone who is not registered will not be permitted on the premises. To register as a volunteer actor, complete the online form at bit.ly/BerlinPOD-Actor.

If you have any questions or concerns about the exercise, contact Chief John Lacasse, City of Berlin Fire Department at (603) 752-3135 or jlacasse@berlinnh.gov.

The North Country Health Consortium is a non-profit public health organization based in Littleton that collaborates with health and human services providers serving northern New Hampshire.

For more information about the North Country Public Health Network and other emergency preparedness initiatives in the North Country region, go to nchcnh.org or contact North Country Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jim Richardson at (603) 259-3700 x255 or jrichardson@NCHCNH.org.

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