This week the state will conduct a full-scale exercise to practice and test its ability to respond to a health emergency such as an influenza pandemic, major weather event or a terrorist attack.

The exercise will focus on the state’s ability to receive and distribute the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Strategic National Stockpile, a large supply of medicine and medical supplies used to protect the public during a health emergency, according to a state Department of Health and Hospitals news release.

DHH will set up point of dispensing sites, distribution points used to dispense medicine to the public.

“It is critical that we are able to quickly distribute life-saving medicine during a health emergency, every second counts,” DHH Office of Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane said in the release. “This is a valuable opportunity to ensure that our plans work by conducting a full-scale exercise with our federal, state and local partners.”

During a real emergency, once federal and local authorities agree that the stockpile is needed, medicines will be delivered to any state within 12 hours. Each state has plans to receive and distribute stockpile medicine and medical supplies to local communities as quickly as possible.

The exercise runs Tuesday through Thursday in the Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Houma-Thibodaux, Covington and Alexandria metropolitan areas. Numerous federal, state and local government and industry are participating including the CDC, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, DHH, Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Louisiana State Police, parish governments, hospitals and industry.