A New Solution to the Old Problem of Emergency Access

Emily Lord

Emily Lord is Director of Operations for Rx Response Program. She directs non-emergency program activities and leads the program’s support team when responding to emergencies. Emily’s expertise focuses on business continuity and resilience.

It was late October 2012, barely 24 hours after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New York City. I received a phone call from a major pharmaceutical distributor who was working with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) to deliver cancer medications to a hospital in Manhattan. The truck, unmarked for necessary security concerns was not being allowed past a police roadblock because they had been instructed to keep all non-essential personnel out. It didn’t really matter what was in the truck or how critical the medicines were, they weren’t letting anyone without a badge in.

I’m sure you all have your own versions of this story, whether during Sandy or another event. Credentialing and access into restricted areas after disasters is the number one problem I hear about during Rx Response activations.

While keeping a disaster-affected area safe and secure is incredibly important, there comes a time when over-restriction of access hinders a community’s recovery. Allowing deliveries and critical employees access is the first step to creating whole community recovery. It gets employees back to work, opens businesses like pharmacies that provide patients with life sustaining medications, and it creates an economic base for the community to recover.

The Emergency Responder ID Trust Network (ER-ITN) program was established in 2013 to solve this very problem. I am pleased to announce a new partnership between Rx Response and ER-ITN to expand this valuable program’s reach in the US and within the pharmaceutical supply chain.

ER-ITN is a unique approach to solving this access issue. It works with state and local law enforcement agencies to gain buy-in and increase usability during an event. Companies join before a disaster and assign critical employees a digital access ID card for use at police checkpoints. A real-time database allows law enforcement to pull up a photo and information about the employee to ensure only required personnel have access.

This program is incredibly useful, not just after major events, but also during local disruptions that affect businesses across the US hundreds of times a year. The program is currently active in two states and is rapidly expanding to many more states throughout the US.

As part of this partnership, Rx Response members can now join the ER-ITN program at a 50% discount for every employee entered in their system. For nation-wide organizations with many employees, they will cap all enrollment fees at $1,000 annually. We believe this partnership is just one more way for Rx Response to support its members and provide direct solutions for the most critical issues they face after disasters.

To share more information about this partnership, Rx Response will be holding two webinars this fall so both states and private sector companies can learn more about joining this program. Information on the webinars will be released in the coming weeks. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. Does your business experience these types of issues? Would you use a program like ER-ITN? Email us at contactus@rxresponse.org with comments, questions or blog ideas.