What Burel does is to plan for emergency scenarios that would require the use of the stockpile — the U.S. national repository of antibiotics, vaccines, chemical antidotes, antitoxins, and other critical medical equipment and supplies. In other words, Burel’s job involves a lot of thinking about pandemics, bioterrorism, and other not-so-rosy subjects.
Fortunately, this also involves a lot of preparation. The most major benchmark test: a simulation of an aerosolized anthrax attack on New York City, to successfully get medicine to millions of people within 48 hours. When it generally takes the first 36 hours to recognize a diagnosis, response time is at a razor-thin margin that the CDC, along with local emergency response coordinators, have to be prepared for.
This is especially welcome from organizations with a large employee base, which can work with state and local health agencies to become a “closed point of dispensing,” a place people in the community could go to in the event that emergency medicine was needed (the example Burel used was recent meningitis outbreaks on college campuses).