Anthrax drill takes over Mitchell County -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Anthrax drill takes over Mitchell County

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

CAMILLA, GA (WALB) - Hundreds of people in Mitchell County took part in an anthrax drill today.

The health department put on the full-scale exercise, to test the community's readiness for a biological terrorist attack.

They say if there were an attack, it would require quick response to dispense medication to thousands of people.

One by one, Mitchell countians received their meds, which for today were packs of M&Ms.

It was part of Operation Anthrax 2009. First responders, healthcare professionals, and volunteers spent the morning experiencing what would happen if a real biological terrorist attack hit their community.

"What we envisioned was an anthrax attack that would be aerosol that was distributed through a crop duster and we figured with a community of this size, the most likely spot for an attack would be like a ball field," said Carolyn Maschke, Public Information Officer for the Southwest Georgia Public Health District.

If terrorists did strike this would likely be the scene a couple days later.

"The hospital is testing their surge capacity in their emergency department today," said Jeri Barnes, Mitchell Co. Health Department Nurse Manager.

An anthrax scare would also require rapid distribution of drugs to the county's population of 24,000.

"We've set it up so we can take care of people who are driving through, so if they were to come through in a car and pick up medication for their family. But we're also drilling if people were walking through if there were people in this community that couldn't get transportation," said Barnes.

Anthrax is a deadly disease caused by bacterium that forms spores. But it can also be used as a weapon, which happened in 2001 through the US postal service.

"Pre-911 we really didn't think about things like that. But since 911 we've all been preparing more to meet the needs of our population," said Barnes.

Overall, workers say today's operation was a success and they feel prepared to react quickly and effectively if a terrorist attack hit Mitchell County.

This is the first time the Southwest Georgia Public Health District performed a drill like this outside of Dougherty county. Feedback

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