City workers drill for emergency during election

Gloucester city staff and volunteers simultaneously conducted a training drill to ensure preparedness in the event of a large-scale, public health emergency during Election Day polling at Gloucester High School.

Staff from the city clerk's office weren't the only Gloucester city employees busy on Election Day.

Members of the Gloucester Health Department participated in Vote & Vax, a national project encouraging the hosting of flu clinics at polling sites on Tuesday. Twenty-two residents took advantage of the clinic, said Karin Carroll, Gloucester’s public health director.

In addition to giving out flu shots at the polls, city staff and volunteers simultaneously conducted a training drill from 7 to 8 a.m. to ensure preparedness in the event of a large-scale, public health emergency.

The drill involved multiple city agencies; fire, emergency management, schools, clerk’s office, and the health department as would be the case in a true emergency.

The drill followed all principles of the Incident Command Model; a nation-wide model for multi-disciplinary emergency response. According to the model, there is one designated incident commander in charge of any event. This role was filled by Gloucester Emergency Manager Joe Aiello of the Gloucester Fire Department. Fire Chief Eric Smith was the designated public information officer, responsible for all communication and messaging to the public. Each staff had a unique role in the drill and wore the corresponding color vest to clearly indicate their role.

“Election Day represents a good opportunity for us to make contact with a large cross section of the community, better preparing us in the event of a wide-spread public health emergency in our community,” Carroll said.

The Gloucester Health Department is one of 15 communities in the North Shore/Cape Ann Emergency Preparedness Coalition who meet regularly to plan and drill for potential health emergencies such as extreme heat, pandemics and sheltering.

“Having participation by all stakeholders and departments that would be involved in a real world event during a drill is key to preparation for an actual event,” Smith said.

More information about the City of Gloucester Health Department’s Vote and Vax clinic and drill is available at www.gloucester-ma.gov or by calling 978-325-5266.