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39_Steve Adams

Strategic National Stockpile

Disaster Master

“The worst-case scenarios are terrible and horrible, and many people would die.” Welcome to the world of Steve Adams, deputy director of the Strategic National Stockpile. Set up back in 1999 as an arm of the Centers for Disease Control, the SNS does two things: Plan the medical response to a bioterror attack or pandemic, and maintain a nationwide network of 12 secret warehouses filled with the supplies we’ll need in the event of bioterrorism or a sudden, sweeping outbreak of disease. (The SNS has 30 million full courses of treatment for anthrax infection, for instance; “billions of tablets,” Adams says.) Each warehouse holds 50 tons of identical supplies, preloaded into containers. The goal is to be able to deliver them anywhere in the country within 12 hours. “We’ve gotten very clear direction from two presidents now: We simply cannot fail,” Adams says. “That drives a lot of our thinking.” Ours, too.


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