Cities Readiness Initiative

The CRI Program

The Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) is a federally funded program designed to increase bioterrorism preparedness in the nation's larger cities. The goal is to minimize the loss of lives during a public health emergency by rapidly dispensing medication to the entire population within 48 hours of the decision to do so.

Maine CRI encompasses the Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and includes York, Cumberland, and Sagadahoc counties. Maine CRI works with local and county emergency management partners to plan for medication dispensing through Points of Distribution (PODs).

Points of Distribution (PODs)

PODs are designated dispensing locations for persons who are currently healthy but may have been exposed to an infectious agent or disease and need prophylactic medication during a public health emergency. Federal and State Center for Disease Control (CDC) officials will decide when to activate PODs. Once the decision has been made, the public will be notified through media outlets with instructions on when and where to access medications through PODs.

Maine CRI has identified locations for PODs throughout the Portland MSA and continues to develop and exercise POD plans. There are two types of PODs: Open and Closed.

Open POD

An Open POD is a clinic that is opened to the public specifically to get medication to a large number of people rapidly. On average, a POD that is dispensing oral medication can process 500 people or more an hour.

Closed POD

An employer that dispenses medication to their employees and their families, if necessary, operates a Closed POD. Closed PODs are usually located within the employer’s facilities and are not open to the public.


POD operations will, in large part, rely on local volunteers. Maine CRI works closely with several volunteer groups, including: Southern Maine Community Organizations Active in Disaster (SMCOAD), Cumberland County Medical Reserve Corps, and Maine Responds. If you are interested in volunteering, please register with Maine Responds.

Information for Businesses Interested in Becoming a Partner

Businesses and employers are invited to participate in planning. Private partners can become Closed PODs, which are operated for their employees and their families only, and are generally located within that employer’s facilities. Private businesses can also donate assets that will assist with operations of general public (Open) PODs. Businesses are encouraged to contact us for more information on how to become a planning partner.

Further Information

Please note that the following resources may be specific to other CRI Programs and are intended to give examples of CRI basics, not plans specific to Maine CRI.
For more information on the Federal CRI program, visit the CRI Fact page at the CDC Website.