Ellis County Homeland Security is inviting everyone to attend a Cities Readiness Initiative training program to take place from 7-9 a.m. Monday, May 28, at the Ellis County Courthouse.

CRI is a pilot program to aid cities and counties in increasing their capacity to deliver medicines and medical supplies during a large-scale public health emergency such as a bioterrorism attack or a nuclear accident.

CRI’s goal is to set up clinics to provide medications — if necessary — to the population of Ellis County in 48 hours after an event.

The May 28 training program is to prepare volunteers for the CRI-led effort to deliver medicines and medical supplies in the event of a large-scale public health emergency.

“We have to recruit 1,350 volunteers to adequately cover Ellis County and it is my responsibility to have volunteers to man our nine POD (points of dispensing) sites on a two 12-hour shift,” CRI coordinator Bill Holley said. “A POD is a site to medicate the entire population of Ellis County, which is about 149,000 people. We already have nine sites here in Ellis County that can be activated for any type of emergency.”

POD is one of the three mechanisms that will be used to ensure that healthy people receive medicines and medical supplies to safeguard them in the event of a large-scale public health emergency.

“As long as we have volunteers that have had special training, we can activate a site in various areas of the county,” said Tracie Flieg, assistant to Sharon McKinney, emergency management coordinator for Ellis County.

“Our goal is to have a functional exercise for our volunteers so we are prepared in the event of an emergency,” she said, noting volunteers could be nurses, law enforcement officers, drivers, military personnel and others.

McKinney and emergency preparedness specialist Matt Garrett will be on hand for the May 28 training, which will cover CRI and Ellis County; emergency management; bioterrorism; severe weather including flooding, tornadoes and drought; hazardous materials incidents; terrorism from anti-abortion extremists, eco terrorists, militias, supremacist groups, anti-government separatists and independent threats; international terrorist organizations; and agents such as botulinum, ricin, salmonella, viral hemorrhagic fevers, brucellosis, West Nile, SARS and others.

According to Holley, CRI is prepared to make presentations at companies throughout Ellis County that are interested in learning and lending a hand to get the information out to the public.

“We’ll go to companies at anytime to do a 20-minute PowerPoint training presentation about CRI and how it relates to Ellis County,” Holley said, adding there will also be follow-up training for core leaders and site leaders.

For more information or to volunteer, e-mail contact information to cri.homeland.security@co.ellis.tx.us.

E-mail Chicarra at chicarra.dense@waxahachiedailylight.com