The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) is a program detailed within the national emergency response plan that provides critical pharmaceuticals and medical supplies to Americans in a timely manner in the event of a terrorist act or public health emergency. The following information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains the concept and deployment of the SNS.
Helping State and Local Jurisdictions Prepare for a Public Emergency
An act of terrorism targeting the United States may require rapid access to large quantities of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies. Such quantities may not be readily available unless special stockpiles are created. No one can anticipate exactly where a terrorist or disease epidemic will strike, and few state or local governments have the resources to create sufficient stockpiles on their own. Therefore, a national stockpile has been created as a resource for all states.
A National Repository of Life-Saving Pharmaceuticals and Medical Materials
The SNS is a national repository of antibiotics, chemical antidotes, antitoxins, life-support medications, IV administration, airway maintenance supplies and medical/surgical items. The SNS is designed to supplement and re-supply state and local public health agencies in the event of a national emergency anywhere, anytime within the United States or territories.
The SNS is organized for flexible response. The first line of support lies within the immediate response 12-hour "Push Packages." These are caches of pharmaceuticals, antidotes and medical supplies designed to provide rapid delivery of a broad spectrum of assets for illness in the early hours of an event. These Push Packages are positioned in strategically located, secure warehouses ready for immediate deployment to a designated site within 12 hours of the federal decision to deploy SNS assets.
If the incident requires additional pharmaceuticals and/or medical supplies, follow-up Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI) supplies will be shipped to arrive within 24 to 36 hours. If the threat/illness is well defined, VMI can be tailored to provide pharmaceuticals, supplies and/or products specific to the suspected or confirmed agent(s). In this case, the VMI could act as the first option for immediate response from the SNS.
Supplementing State and Local Resources
During a national emergency, state, local and private stocks of medical materiel will be depleted quickly. State and local first responders and health officials can use the SNS to bolster their response to a national emergency, with the 12-hour Push Packages, VMI, or a combination of both, depending on the situation. The SNS is not a first response tool.
When and How is the SNS Deployed?
The decision to deploy SNS assets may be based on evidence showing the overt release of an agent or weapon that might adversely affect public health. It is more likely, however, that subtle indicators, such as unusual morbidity and/or mortality identified through the nation’s disease outbreak surveillance and epidemiology network, will alert health officials to the possibility (and confirmation) of a biological or chemical incident or a national emergency. To receive SNS assets, the affected state’s governor’s office will directly request the deployment of the SNS assets from the CDC. The CDC will work with the Department of Homeland Security and other federal officials to evaluate the situation and determine a prompt course of action. The state requesting the SNS is then responsible for receipt, storage and distribution of the assets.