Needing Medicine in an Emergency

In certain health emergencies, many people may need medicine fast to keep them from getting sick or getting infected with a virus, disease, or infection.  To accommodate many people at once, large supplies of medicine are stored in places around the country so that if needed, communities can get it fast and free of charge.

How Does the Health Department Get all that Medicine?

The Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department works with the Emergency Management Coordinator in submitting a request to the State for the large supply of medicine.  The State then delivers the medicine to a Distribution Node in the county to be stored and distributed out as needed.

Who Distributes the Medicine?

The Health Department's Mass Dispensing Plan describes how they will manage and dispense medicine to the public via Point of Dispensing (POD) sites. The plan describes the key functions and the places setup to dispense to the public.

What is a POD site?

It is a temporary place that is set up only in emergencies to dispense medicine, such as antibiotics or vaccines, to large numbers of people.  POD stands for Point of Dispensing, hence dispensing medicines at a specific site.  Routine medical care is not available at a POD Site.

When are POD sites set up?

These sites are set up when many people need antibiotics or vaccines to prevent illness, or spread of illness.  Situations like this are rare, but could occur during an infectious disease outbreak like the influenza.

How Many are There?

There are 2 POD Sites always pre-planned, located at Suttons Bay High School and Benzie Central High School.  The Health Department, with assistance from Emergency Management, can setup additional sites to accommodate more people.

What happens at a POD site?

Public health staff and volunteers direct people to stations inside the facility where they are asked about allergies, current medications, or health conditions.  This information is only used to hand out the type of medicine that works best for the person receiving it.  All medicine comes with written instructions.  Generally, the head of household may pick up medicine for up to 10 people in their "household".  For vaccines, every person must go to a POD site.

May people visiting the area get medicine?

All people who may have been exposed or are at risk can get medicine through a POD site, no matter where they live, including international, and migrant.

How Do People in Jail, or in the Nursing Home, or other special needs receive medicine?

The Emergency Preparedness Coordinator works with agencies who represents these individuals to determine the most feasible method for them to receive medicine.  In most cases, the Health Department will transfer ownership of the medicine to the facilities who will then give to the inmates, or patients, employees, and their family members.   These are called "Closed" POD Sites as they only serve identified special populations, and not open to the general public.

Can people get the medicine from a clinic or pharmacy?

Clinics and pharmacies may be busy caring for ill people, and they do not have large supplies of the necessary medicine in stock.  POD sites have enough medicine for everyone who needs it and they are designed to get medicine to many people quickly.

What Should People Do?

People should keep informed about public health threats/emergencies.  In a public health emergency, if they have symptoms, call 911, otherwise in non-emergencies, contact their health provider.


Keep informed through the media, facebook, friends, family, and workplaces regarding medicine in an emergency.