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About this Exercise

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions or Concerns?

Contact Emergency Program Manager Charles Pelton,
(907) 334-2242.

Ragin' Contagion

This was an exercise, not a real event.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services will conduct a statewide public health preparedness exercise called Ragin’ Contagion as part of Alaska Shield, a training event led by the Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, on April 10-13, 2019. These exercises provide communities, boroughs, agencies, health care facilities and other partners the opportunity to practice and test a coordinated emergency response using fictional scenarios. These statewide trainings occur every few years to ensure Alaska is prepared for real-life natural disasters, public health emergencies or other catastrophic events.

Alaska Shield/Ragin’ Contagion FAQs

What is Alaska Shield?

Alaska Shield 2019 is a statewide exercise that prepares organizations with a role in disaster and/or man-made event response to function as one team. During this exercise 12 jurisdictions and more than 19 agencies tested their capability to respond to terrorism/bio-terrorism events, cyber threats or other emergency situations. Planning for this effort began more than three years ago. Specifically, states and communities will be testing local and statewide capabilities to provide medical and emergency response services to a large number of patients throughout the state, to support Alaskans during a biological terrorist attack, and to deal with the effects of a cyber-attack on the state’s and local jurisdictions’ automated utility control systems.

What is Ragin’ Contagion?

Ragin’ Contagion, a component of Alaska Shield, is an exercise within the larger exercise that will focus on health and medical preparedness. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) Emergency Operations Center (EOC) will convene to facilitate this exercise. Alaska Shield/Ragin’ Contagion will allow local, state, and federal law enforcement and emergency managers to practice their ability to respond to a fictional scenario of bioterrorism involving pneumonic plague so they can validate existing emergency practices or find areas of improvement.

Which communities are involved in Ragin’ Contagion?

The level of exercise activity in each community will vary and events and timelines will vary depending on the jurisdiction. Communities involved in Ragin’ Contagion 2019 included Anchorage, Bethel, Cordova, Craig, Dillingham, Fairbanks, Hollis, Organized Village of Kasaan, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Mat-Su Borough, Naukati, Nome, Utqiagvik, Valdez, Koliganek, New Stuyahok, Noorvik, Ouzinkie, Shaktoolik, Togiak, Tok and Whale Pass.

When will Ragin’ Contagion take place?

To make sure the exercise mimics real world timing, it kicked off Thursday, March 28, in Utqiagvik, Alaska with a fictional fatality. This part of the exercise involved the mock transportation of this deceased person (a dummy) to Anchorage, Alaska, for testing. For more than a week, the exercise continued behind the scenes as lab testing is done and emergency room departments around the state report mock surges of patients to emergency room departments, similar to what might happen during a real pandemic. Ragin’ Contagion 2019 became more visible to the public starting Wednesday, April 10, when lab tests were complete, pneumonic plague was confirmed and a fictional emergency declaration was made by the state. Medication was shipped to communities statewide April 11 and most communities involved held a point of dispensing clinic (POD) on April 12. Anchorage held a POD on April 11 and Mat-Su held their POD on April 13.

What is a POD?

If mass dispensing of medication is needed during an exercise or a real world event, medical staff and emergency responders would set up point of dispensing (POD) clinics to distribute (pretend) medication to community members. PODs can be open (public is welcome) or closed (for specific groups like health care providers prior to an open POD) depending on the needs of the exercise or real world event. Volunteers from the local community are sometimes needed to assist with these PODs to make sure proper training is done, so community members can prepare themselves and others for future events.

Why have this exercise?

Local, state and federal law enforcement and emergency managers are practicing their ability to respond to a pandemic so they can validate practices or find areas of improvement. With any activity you hope to do well, practice is critical. Most funding for these exercises come from federal emergency management funds. 

Is there a current threat?

There is no current threat or information about a possible pandemic event and/or biological attack. Law enforcement and emergency managers are simply practicing their ability to respond. Alaska Shield 2019 has been in the planning process since 2016.

Chill, it's a drill! Ragin' Contagion: A Public Health Exercise