The strategic national stockpile (SNS) is a national supply of life-support medications and equipment used in disastrous situations. SNS’s mission is to provide vitally needed medical resources to a national emergency site while local public health resources are overloaded. Stockpiles usually contain 12-hour push packages which include bandages, antibiotics, airway equipment, IV fluids and fluid administration kits, and other medicaments for emergency cases. In broad terms, in addition to the 12-hour push packages, SNS consists of vaccines, antitoxins, and ventilators.
When people are forced to rely on SNS in the context of a national disaster, they expect timely delivery of medical items and unconditional support. “Strengthening national response and effective international assistance” must be the principal priority of the national stockpile (Perez & Carr, 2007, p. 7). SNS should work in the direction of risk management, which implies event detection, disease risk identification, risk preparedness, and reduction.
Hospitals should also be alert and consistent in their responses and actions. A prime example was the attacks on September 11, 2001, which demonstrated how vitally important it is for healthcare centers to be prepared for all kinds of emergencies. On 9/11, “hospitals in New York City initiated their disaster response plans, but found that their previous disaster drills did not adequately prepare staff for the magnitude of the event” (Center for Biosecurity of UPMC, 2009, p. 8). Every hospital must have an overall hospital emergency response plan. Coordinating activities within and beyond the hospital, issuing information through a single source, being alert and responsive is the duty of public health institutes in times of a national disaster.
Despite the concerns around SNS, its role is vitally important for humanity. Today, the Strategic National Stockpile ensures that “federal, state, and local agencies are ready to receive, and stage and distribute products” (US Department of Health & Human Services, n.d., para. 3). It is undeniable that without such instrument as SNS, the world would not have survived major national and global disasters.
Center for Biosecurity of UPMC. (2009). Hospitals rising to the challenge: The first five years of the U.S. hospital preparedness program and priorities going forward.
Perez, M., & Carr, Z. (2007). Development of stockpiles for radiation emergencies [PDF document].
US Department of Health & Human Services (n.d.) Stockpile responses.