The WVU School of Pharmacy WMD Task Force is made up of pharmacy students (Year 1 through Year 4) who have voluntarily completed training in the recognition and management of a weapons of mass destruction event.

Didactic instruction covers:

  • Smallpox, plague, and anthrax recognition and management
  • Nerve agent, vesicant, industrial chemicals, and biologic toxins (e.g., ricin) recognition and management
  • West Virginia incident command structure
  • Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) structure

Hands on activities include:

  • Smallpox vaccination training
  • Vaccination and mass prophylaxis dispensing site operations

Trainings are given by Elizabeth J. Scharman, Pharm.D, DABAT, BCPS, FAACT. Dr. Scharman is a full-time Professor with the School of Pharmacy and is the Director of the West Virginia Poison Center (WVPC). She is located at the Charleston Division. She is also the Deputy Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) Coordinator for the state of West Virginia.

As a result of her work with the SNS program, and the desire of the Federal government to include poison centers in terrorism funding, Dr. Scharman received a $ 40,000.00 sub-contract grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Hospital Preparedness Grant program to initiate a Disaster Phone Bank (where the public would call in with questions about their medication or vaccination questions should medication or vaccination be needed following a terrorist event) and to train pharmacy students to assist with the phone bank and other volunteer activities associated with the SNS Program.

The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) contains the medications, antidotes, vaccines, and medical supplies necessary to treat victims or provide prophylaxis for citizens following a chemical or biological terrorist event. The SNS program is managed by the Center’s for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). SNS supplies are stored in secret locations in the United States. States request SNS supplies after a terrorist event if the event cannot be managed with local supplies. The CDC expects that it will take 12 hours or less for states to receive supplies after they have been requested. Individual states will need to be able to start treatment on victims while awaiting arrival of the NPS.

Pharmacists will be integral in making the SNS plan work. Consider the worst-case-scenario: having the dispense ciprofloxacin and or doxycycline to the over 1.8 million people living in WV within a couple of days or having to vaccinate WV’s entire population within a couple of days. This will require pharmacists, nurses, physicians, veterinarians, dentists, other health care professionals, and the lay public to all play a part. Pharmacists will be needed to assist with dispensing functions at local dispensing sites and to help evaluate for antibiotic drug interactions, complications, and necessary dose adjustments for age and renal dysfunction. Pharmacists will also be needed to compound pediatric doses if the need arises and to ensure that medications and vaccines are stored and handled appropriately. In the hospital setting, these functions are also required. In addition, hospital pharmacists will need to play an active role in the development of their hospital’s SNS plan and will be integral to signing for and tracking the SNS assets their hospital receives.