2017 POD dispensing exercise in Green Township.

Medical countermeasures, or MCMs, are life-saving medicines and medical supplies regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can be used to diagnose, prevent, protect from, or treat conditions associated with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) threats, emerging infectious diseases or a natural disaster.

MCMs can include:

  • Biologic products, such as vaccines, blood products and antibodies
  • Drugs, such as antimicrobial or antiviral drugs
  • Devices, including diagnostic tests to identify threat agents, and personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, respirators (face masks), and ventilators.

HCPH has been funded by CDC’s Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), which is a federally funded program designed to enhance preparedness in the nation’s largest population centers, where nearly 60% of the population resides, to plan for and effectively respond to large-scale public health emergencies needing life-saving medications and medical supplies. HCPH uses CRI funding to develop, test, and maintain plans to quickly receive medical countermeasures from CDC’s Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) and distribute them to local communities. The SNS is the nation’s largest supply of MCMs for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.


Frequently Asked Questions

How long will the PODs be open?

A POD is a location used to quickly give out medicine or vaccinations to the public after an emergency. POD locations do not however offer routine medical care.



In what kind of a situation would PODs be set up?

It is rare that large numbers of people would need to take medicine or vaccinations to prevent an illness. However, community-wide exposure to an agent such as Anthrax would require POD locations to be set up to give medicine to people to prevent them from getting sick.


What happens at a POD?

2018 POD dispensing exercise in Loveland.

People who may have been exposed would go to the POD to receive medicine. They would be asked several questions about their health. These questions would either be asked in person or written on a form.

There are usually several medicines that can be given to protect people from getting these illnesses. A doctor, pharmacist, or nurse will be at each POD and can help determine the best medicine for each person.


Where will PODs be set up?

POD locations will be set up at various locations throughout the county as needed.  There are currently 35 ‘open’ or community PODs that could be opened within HCPH-service jurisdictions.


Do we have access to enough emergency medications to take care of everyone?

A large supply of medicine is available through the Strategic National Stockpile. These medicines will be delivered by the Ohio Department of Health to the ‘open’ or community POD locations.


What kind of a biological attack might require distribution of medicine or vaccine?

An Anthrax attack would require the rapid distribution of medicine. A Smallpox attack would require the rapid distribution and administration of Smallpox vaccine.


Administering H1N1 vaccine in 2009.

Have PODs ever been used before in Hamilton County?

In the fall of 2009, HCPH set up numerous POD locations throughout the county to provide vaccine for the H1N1 flu.


Who will work in the PODs?

Local first responders such as fire and police; Tristate MRC volunteers; volunteers from a community reception center, county employees and public health staff will work together in each POD. Both medical and non-medical workers will be needed to perform a wide variety of tasks necessary at the POD.


How long will the PODs be open?

If the entire county needs to receive medicine or vaccines. If the entire city or county needs to receive medicine or vaccine, the POD locations will remain open 24 hours a day, until all goals are met.


How will people know when and where to go to a POD?

HCPH will provide information to local news and radio stations on when and where to go. Some communities have ways to reach their citizens with emergency information through reverse 9-1-1 or AM radio stations.


What about people who do not speak English?

We know that English is not the first language of many city or county residents. Paperwork given out at a POD will be available in other languages and translation services will be available to assist residents who do not speak English well.


What about undocumented immigrants and visitors to Hamilton County?

Any residents or visitors in Hamilton County are able to visit a POD to receive medications.


HCPH Wins National Award for PODs

Hamilton County Public Health (HCPH) has received the National Health Security Award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) in recognition of its extensive medication distribution system that helps protect the citizens of Hamilton County from bioterrorism.

L-R:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Edward Gabriel, Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram, Hamilton County Assistant Health Commissioner Craig Davidson, NACCHO President Kevin Sumner, NACCHO CEO Lori Tremmel Freeman. Photo courtesy of NACCHO.

In the event of a public health emergency such as a biological release or a pandemic flu, HCPH has implemented a system throughout the County to quickly and efficiently get medication to large numbers of people.  HCPH operates 35 open points-of-dispensing (POD) sites at strategic locations throughout the County.  Supplemented by a closed POD system that serves skilled nursing facilities and businesses throughout the County, the system is designed to dispense medications to the 480,000-plus citizens served by HCPH.

“In the event of an emergency, we can get potentially lifesaving medications out to citizens through this community-based system,” says Hamilton County Health Commissioner Tim Ingram.  “In an incident, we can stand up these sites and have citizens pick up medications for their families in close proximity to where they live or work.”

The distribution system is regularly evaluated and exercised to make sure it is ready and that staff and partners are comfortable in their roles.  “We couldn’t do this without the support of our volunteers,” Ingram adds.  “We work very closely with first responders, local governments and community volunteers to make sure we have experienced POD managers and workers ready at a moment’s notice.”

For information on volunteering at a POD site, click here  or call 513-946-7889.