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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
September 29, 2004

Clifton R. Lacy, M.D.

For Further Information Contact:
Donna Leusner
(609) 984-7160

New Jersey to Launch "Operation Scarlet Pestilence"


The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), in its continuing efforts to prepare for public health threats, will conduct a full-scale training exercise involving the federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).


The exercise, entitled “Operation Scarlet Pestilence,” will be held Thursday, September 30 through Saturday, October 2, 2004 in Trenton and other locations across the state.


"New Jersey has prepared well for possible threats to the public health,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Clifton R. Lacy, M.D. “We have implemented a strategic state stockpile of pharmaceuticals and supplies. If a health emergency threatens to exhaust our stockpile, we would call upon the federal government to deploy SNS assets to New Jersey.


“This exercise will test our state’s ability to respond rapidly to a public health emergency, to request and obtain federal resources, and to distribute and dispense medication to large numbers of people.”


The SNS consists of medicine, hospital supplies and equipment that may be used to supplement state resources during a public health emergency.  “Operation Scarlet Pestilence” will test New Jersey’s ability to deploy and distribute these medications and hospital supplies to large numbers of people at clinics in four counties – Atlantic, Monmouth, Passaic and Warren – and the City of Newark, on Saturday, October 2, 2004.


More than 900 officials and volunteers are expected to participate in the exercise, including representatives from the office of Governor James E. McGreevey, the DHSS, the Office of the Attorney General, the New Jersey State Police, the FBI, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local and county health agencies.


The exercise begins Thursday, September 30, with simulated reports to the DHSS from three hospitals about an increased number of patients admitted with flu-like symptoms.


Over the following hours and days, epidemiologists, public health nurses, microbiologists, infection control practitioners, government officials, emergency responders, local emergency managers, community members and many others will exercise their roles in response to this simulated public health emergency.


The general schedule of activities is as follows:


  • Thursday, September 30:
    Tabletop exercise (simulated scenario) involving top state health officials and federal agencies at the New Jersey Network studio on Stockton Street in Trenton.  The exercise will lead to a decision by New Jersey public health leaders to request deployment of the SNS stockpile from the CDC.


  • Friday, October 1:
    New Jersey’s DHSS Health Command Center will begin working with partner agencies to respond to the scenario.

    After being delivered to a secure site in New Jersey, the SNS will be apportioned and delivered to locations, which would serve as distribution sites during an emergency.


  • Saturday, October 2:
    The five clinics will test their capacities with the help of about 300 volunteers, who will receive the mock medications or treatment. Each clinic will be tested on its ability to triage “victims” and the “worried well,” provide health and education information, and dispense medications.

    A media briefing will be held at 9:15 a.m. at Paterson Public School #30/Martin Luther King, Jr. School, 851 East 28th Street in Paterson, NJ. Commissioner Lacy will review the SNS exercise and how it fits into New Jersey’s preparedness efforts. P
    roper press ID will be required, as security will not allow access to the site without it. Contact Stephen Summers at (973) 225-3638 for further information or questions. 



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