Emergency workers hold bio-terror drill - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Emergency workers hold bio-terror drill

June 21, 2005

Tifton-- We all hope that we'll never have to deal with a bio terrorism attack, but if we do, its vital that we're prepared. Tuesday, public health workers and emergency responders from all over South Georgia got a hands-on experience in dealing with an attack.

"There are more people affected so we need you to cooperate and get through as quickly as possible," Jennifer Steedley of the South Health District.

There's been an anthrax scare in South Georgia.... "It was at an open event, there was a release and there are hundreds of thousands of people who are experiencing symptoms," said Steedley.

Now its up to these public health workers and emergency responders to take control. "We've got to really do a lot better at being ready to prepare and ready to open this thing up in four hours," said Steedley.

It is just a drill but at anytime, we could be faced with the real thing. The South Health District has to make sure all of those affected get the medications needed to treat their symptoms. "We've exhausted all the medication we had available, and we've requested the Strategic National Stockpile be brought in," said Cliff Conrey, Emergency Preparedness Specialist.

The crisis management starts at what they call a rallying point. "Everybody will meet here and be bussed to the actual dispensing site, and that's just to help with some of the panic and confusion, get everybody here, tell them what's going on and what we're planning to do," said Steedley.

At the dispensing site, there's all kinds of health screenings and forms to be filled out before the actual medicine can be given out. It's a time consuming process, but one that must be done accurately and in a calm manner to keep everyone safe.

"We understand that people are panicked, scared and worried about their well being, but just rest assured that our number one goal is the public's health, and that's what we're here to do today," said Steedley.

And while they all hope they'll never have to put this training into action, if such a disaster does strike this area, they'll be ready. The Southwest Health District headquartered in Albany also took part in a mock anthrax drill today.

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