Michigan county simulates anthrax attack

A full-scale emergency response drill for an anthrax attack was recently held in Bay County, Michigan, to test the preparedness of first responders and hospital staff.

The disaster test began at the Bay County Medical Care facility in Hampton Township and ended in the hospital’s emergency room, according to ABCLocal.go.com.

The simulation began with an anthrax exposure that pushed the county’s firefighters, first responders, hospital staff and even the bus system to move the care center’s patients quickly to the Bay Regional Medical Center.

Volunteers playing the role of patients were decontaminated and given other medical treatment, as they would be if the emergency were real. Twenty-eight people were transported and treated during the day’s drill.

"They have 192 patients that are basically wheelchair-bound," Randy VanDenBoom, Hampton Township fire chief, said, according to ABCLocal.go.com.

"I believe in an all-hazards approach to planning, which many emergency managers do," Chris Izworski, the Bay County emergency coordinator said, ABCLocal.go.com reports. "So if you're prepared for this, we'll hopefully be prepared for this next event. And it was, it was topical...you saw one of the hospitals in Joplin what happened down there."

By most accounts, the simulation was conducted smoothly, but there were some communications problems. These should be corrected when the county switches to a new radio system in the near future.

Willa Rousseau, the simulation’s incident commander, said the county’s first responders are prepared for a real emergency.

"You need to have a plan in place. You need to know what you're going to do and the protocols that will be followed in the event of a true emergency," Rousseau said, according to ABCLocal.go.com.