Lawrence Harmon’s Aug. 11 op-ed column on the Boston Postal Plan exercise (“Does anthrax risk end at city limits?”) doesn’t fully capture the regional emphasis Boston and its partners take when it comes to emergency planning. The list of attendees at last week’s exercise is evidence of these partnerships. Dozens of existing partners from neighboring municipalities, the state, and the federal government participated. In addition, the exercise Harmon described is an example of just one tool officials could use to coordinate a response to an emergency requiring the distribution of medications. It does not by any means represent the extent of our emergency planning efforts in the region.
Every jurisdiction in the state coordinates with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to develop and evaluate emergency response planning for distributing mass prophylaxis to their communities. The fact that Boston has an additional delivery mechanism takes nothing away from the preparedness of other communities, nor does it mean other communities are at greater risk.
Challenges certainly remain around responding to serious and complex emergencies. But Boston and the surrounding region is better prepared thanks to planning exercises such as this one.