Jackson County Health Department holds preparedness drill - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Jackson County Health Department holds preparedness drill

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CARBONDALE -- The Jackson County Health Department staged a bio-weapons drill Wednesday. 

The department holds mini drills all the time, but an exercise of this magnitude only comes every five years. Wednesday's simulation centered on an outbreak of anthrax.

It's a scenario the department hopes to never face.

"Our plans involve being able to meet the challenge in many situations," said Nursing Director Karen Brown.

If a biological agent is ever released, Brown plans to be prepared.

"It's important for us to drill our emergency response procedures on a regular basis," said Brown.

Workers set up a mass medication clinic at the SIU Arena to test the health department's capabilities in real germ warfare. The exercise helps administrators fine tune their response plan to such an event.

"This is the steps to getting the medicine, filling out the forms, having the forms checked to make sure that they're complete," explained Brown.

Medical Reserve Corps volunteer Jim Buitt assisted the health department in the drill.

"There's no better way to train employees that have to deal with these kinds of things. It helps with the emergency preparedness," added Buitt.

As a mock patient, Buitt went through several different stations while workers helped get him and his household medication he would need to survive.

"Seems to me the staff are very well equipped," said Buitt. 

Over 100 volunteers and around 25 staff, including nurses, participated in the drills which also involved triage and a place for patients with special needs.

"There's no better time to be prepared than now," said Buitt.

"We have these plans in place for a reason and that's why we drill them often," added Brown.

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