3. Mitchell County, Georgia to Test Anthrax Readiness

Anthrax” is what folks across this country are using for their scenarios. Thought it would helpful to point out what the perceived threat is…anthrax…is it the anthrax or a representation of a WMD agent?  Col. G.I. Wilson

If you REALLY want to know how badly your personnel and facilities are biologically screwed up, NEVER use anthrax.  Use, for example Crimean Congo fever virus.  It’s outbreaks are sporadically reported.  It can be brought in by a tourist either from the far or middle east, it is contagious, and is patently deadly.  It also invariably leads to closure of facilities, requires a massive treatment effort, and by the time you diagnose it, the chances are “it is already out there.”  Mayhem galore, and far more real than what is proposed (mainly on the basis of the existing detection systems and familiarity with the symptoms, treatment, and public health management.)  You want a CAT5 scenario, you got one.  Dr. Dag von Lubitz

CAMILLA, GA: First responders, healthcare professionals, students and
volunteers will spend an intense morning March 11 experiencing how the
community would respond if a biological terrorist attack overwhelmed the
Mitchell County Hospital, claimed more than 20 lives and required rapid
distribution of drugs to safeguard Mitchell County’s population of 24,000.

Named “Operation Anthrax 2009: Mitchell County Full Scale Exercise,” the
event is sponsored by the Southwest Georgia Public Health District and uses
guidelines established by Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, said Mitchell County Health Department County Nurse
Manager Jeri Barnes.

“The purpose of the exercise is to test Mitchell County Health Department’s
capability to provide mass prophylaxis – medications – to our citizens using
our Emergency Operations Plan,” Barnes said.

“Naturally, if a biological terrorist attack were to occur in Mitchell
County, the entire community, not just the health department, would be
affected and would respond, and we are very pleased at the widespread
participation in this exercise by our community partners.”

Mitchell County Emergency Management Agency Director Ann Lambsaid that the
simulated aerosolized anthrax attack also emphasizes the roles of first
responders, state agencies, Mitchell County Hospital, and the EMA.

“We want to demonstrate our ability to operate effectively under the
National Incident Management System’s Unified Incident Command Structure,”
Lamb said, explaining that NIMS came about after 9-11 to enable agencies and
communities of all sizes throughout the United States to respond more
efficiently and effectively to disasters.

Participants in the full-scale exercise include Albany High School’s Project
Graduate; Camilla Fire Department; Camilla Police Department; the Georgia
Wing of the Civil Air Patrol; the Colquitt County Chapter of the American
Red Cross; Georgia Pines Community Mental Health/Mental
Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Service Board; Mitchell Convalescent
Center; Mitchell County 911; Mitchell County Board of Education; Mitchell
County EMS; Mitchell County Health Department; Mitchell County Hospital, an
affiliate of John D. Archbold Memorial Hospital; Mitchell County Sheriff’s
Department; Pelham City Schools; Pelham Fire Department; Pelham Parkway
Nursing Home; Pelham Police Department; Turner Job Corps and Westwood

From 9 until 10:30 a.m., the Mitchell County Health Department will operate
two medication centers (also known as points of dispensing, or PODs), one at
the State Farmers’ Market in Pelham and the other at the Camilla Fire
Department, Barnes said.

During that time, area schools will send busloads of students playing the
roles of victims to the medication centers and to Mitchell County Hospital.

“Our emergency department will be testing our ability to effectively manage
a surge of patients,” explained registered nurse Carla Beasley, the Mitchell
County Hospital Emergency Department director.

Along with activity at the two medication centers and the hospital,
Southwest District Public Health will have its Emergency Operations Center
in Albany up and running, added Sue Clifton, the Emergency Preparedness
Training Coordinator for the District Office of All Hazards Preparedness.

“Six target capabilities identified by Homeland Security will be exercised
and evaluated: our ability to operate two mass prophylaxis sites; on-site
incident management; emergency public information and warning; responder
safety and health; volunteer management; and medical surge,” Clifton said.

“We are testing our ability to reach 100 percent of the population within 48
hours of exposure. To meet that goal, we’ll need to have 273 people per hour
go through each of our medication centers. We will actually be dispensing
candy instead of medication, and many of the students playing the part of
victims will pick up `medications’ for multiple family users.”

At the hospital, 12 to 15 “patients” carrying cards indicating their
symptoms will flood the emergency department within the space of an hour, she said.

Southwest District Public Health Emergency Preparedness Director Julie
Miller said that communities don’t have sufficient medication on hand to deal with an event like a widespread anthrax exposure…

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