Florida county simulates large-scale anthrax attack

A Florida county public health department recently conducted a large-scale disaster drill, giving first responders an opportunity to test their preparations against an anthrax bioterror attack.

Operation MedStock, conducted by the Pinellas County Health Department, included simulated angry mobs, fainting citizens and shouting matches, according to BringingHomeCommunityNews.com.

“The point of doing exercises like this…is to learn what the problems are and fix them before we have a real emergency,” Stephanie Anspaugh, the planning and logistics coordinator for the program, said, BringingHomeCommunityNews.com reports.

The program’s 70 members and approximately 40 volunteers conducted the point of dispensing exercise at the Osceola High School. The anthrax attack was simulated at Tropicana Field, the home of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team, according to TBNWeekly.com.

Anspaugh said the dispensing team’s goal was to treat up to 40,000 people every hour and the entire population of the county - one million people - within a 48 hour timeframe.

“The last time we did this was about three years ago,” Anspaugh said, BringingHomeCommunityNews.com reports. “Ideally, we want to have drills about every two years. We want to be prepared as much as possible.”

The Pinellas program is one of several in the nation that has been trained under the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Incident Management System.