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Wing aids National Strategic Stockpile

Senior Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister moves pallets of personal protective equipment and antiviral medications into the base Fuel Cell Hangar on April 30. The supplies were shipped to the base from the federal Strategic National Stockpile and were repackaged here for distribution to county health departments across the Commonwealth. The effort was part of the state?s response to the potential threat of a Swine Flu pandemic. (KyANG Photo by Maj. Katrina Johnson)

Senior Master Sgt. Wade Zinsmeister moves pallets of personal protective equipment and antiviral medications into the base Fuel Cell Hangar on April 30. The supplies were shipped to the base from the federal Strategic National Stockpile and were repackaged here for distribution to county health departments across the Commonwealth. The effort was part of the state?s response to the potential threat of a Swine Flu pandemic. (USAF Photo by Maj. Katrina Johnson)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing played a central role in Kentucky's response to Swine Flu recently when they helped distribute medical supplies around the state.

Truckloads of surgical gloves, gowns, face masks and antiviral medications began arriving on base April 30 from multiple federal warehouses across the nation, said Senior Master Sgt. Carol Davis, base disaster preparedness superintendent.

About 15 Kentucky Airmen then worked for the next five days to break down pallets of supplies, repackage them into smaller lots and prepare them for further distribution to 56 county health departments and districts from Pikeville to Paducah.

The operation was largely wrapped up on the morning of May 4 when 75 pallets of gear were loaded onto 10 outbound trucks in less than two hours, Sergeant Davis said. The final semi, loaded with another 12 pallets of supplies, left the base later that afternoon.

All the materials were culled from the country's Strategic National Stockpile, a collection of drugs, vaccines and equipment that can be deployed nationwide in the event of a health emergency.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tasked the 123rd Airlift Wing to serve as Receipt, Stage and Storage site whenever the stockpile needs to be tapped, Sergeant Davis said. There are two other such sites in Kentucky -- one near Blue Grass Airport in Lexington and another by Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport in Covington.

The effort is one of several steps being taken by state and federal health officials to prepare for the potential outbreak of a Swine Flu virus known as H1N1. To date, hundreds of cases of the disease have been confirmed around the world, with most in the United States or Mexico. A handful of those cases are from Kentucky. As of Monday, three deaths have been attributed to the disease in America.

Sergeant Davis said she was pleased with the operation, calling it "a huge success."

"It was a very streamlined, safe operation, and everybody did a great job," she said.