The points of dispensing tend to increase under current social and economic conditions as the threats associated with bioterrorism are substantial. In particular, points of dispensing during disasters are examined in the paper. It is necessary to analyze the point of dispensing (POD) place in the Incidence Command System (ICS) in supporting disaster management. The current trends and possible improvements are further discussed.
1. The Significance of POD in Dispensing.
Although different types of natural and other disasters require various procedures, the ultimate foundation of POD is the same. The common practice is that the medical and other complementary services should be provided in about 48 hours (POD Training Video, 2009). The participation of the community partners is essential for the general improvement of the POD process. In relation to disasters, POD is usually activated in order to prevent disease in people who experience significant threats but are not yet sick. Various infective diseases may be treated, but the treatment is often limited to a specific medication (NACCHO, 2012). Moreover, the needs of different people should be specified, and the satisfaction of their demands should be organized on an individual basis.
Natural disasters are one of the main sources of emergencies that may require the implementation of the POD strategy. The help is provided from the center, and the task of the local authorities and community members is to distribute all resources effectively and organize complementary services that are needed. The necessary medications, vaccines, and technical assistance constitute the main aspects of help at the first stage. The state and local governments organize store, stage, and return supplies. As a rule, the basic POD plan is created, but soon afterwards, it is adjusted to local conditions. In this way, the necessary flexibility may be maintained.
POD’s locations should satisfy a number of requirements. They should be of an appropriate size and accessible for a large number of people. Many specialists should coordinate their activities in order to run a POD. The ultimate combination of necessary skills depends on the particular situation. The staff may include the experts from hospitals, volunteers, and other first responders. The important aspect is not only to find appropriate specialists but to assign them to the optimal area where the general product of their activities will be maximal. The staff usually represents a large variety of professions, agencies, disciplines, and institutions.
The Incident Command System is the main element of the POD operations management. All measures should correspond to the federal requirements and recognized response practices.
Therefore, the POD manager should coordinate his/her actions with public information and health and safety officers. Moreover, the functioning of operations, planning, logistics, and finance and administration sections should be taken into account.
2. The Significance of POD in Distributing or Administering Medical or Non-Medical Countermeasures Following a Disaster.
PODs play an important role in distributing and administering counter-measures following natural and other types of disasters. PODs constitute a flexible mechanism of minimizing the negative effects of various disasters as different specialists provide a timely assistance to all people in need. Additional attention is paid to prevention of diseases among those groups that are not sick but experience significant risks. Both medical and non-medical measures are needed to address the key negative consequences as all aspects of social life are inter-related (Beso, Franklin, & Barber, 2005).
In particular, PODs may be helpful in addressing stress symptoms as the majority of people have some psychological problems after experiencing a disaster. First of all, signs of stress and fatigue should be monitored. The staff of PODs may be subject to assessment, as well, because the have to work with many people and may be influenced by the stress factors. The main signs of stress after a disaster include irritability, lack of concentration, and critical errors (Hope, Hattingh, & Haywood, 2012). Different symptoms may be treated separately, but then, final evaluation is needed in order to control the necessary level of physical and mental health.
After having provided the needed amount of work, the supervisor informs the staff that they have successfully completed their task. The brief report may be developed for the presentation of all the results of a given group. Therefore, the Incident Command System provides a general structure of measures that should be taken by the specialists of PODs. The Incident Command System usually outlines the most fundamental aspects of management while local authorities and PODs are free to adjust those general considerations to their local conditions.
A large variety of modern threats may be successfully addressed with the help of the PODs’ operations. PODs contribute to a higher flexibility of the system and take into account the specific needs of all groups of the population. The main initiatives are developed in the center, and then, they are forwarded to the local level through the network of local institutions. The POD’s locations should correspond to a number of requirements in order to keep in line with the national strategy and effectively fulfill its functions.
PODs occupy the central position in addressing various medical and complementary issues after a disaster. If the coordination among various specialists from different fields is properly organized, the general positive effect may be substantial. The experts often pay additional attention to the neutralization of the negative impact of stress factors on the human health as it is generally recognized that both mental and physical symptoms may be closely related to one another. All recommendations of the Incident Command System should be implemented in practice.