Wyoming tests anthrax response plans

Public health officials and emergency response agencies in Wyoming recently conducted a full-scale drill simulating an attack using the bioterror agent anthrax.

Fifteen Wyoming counties participated in the exercise, called "Operation Prairie Eagle," that briefly turned the gym at Laramie County Community College into a countermeasure dispensary, according to WyomingNews.com.

The Laramie County Health Department and several emergency and health organizations ran the drill to assess their readiness to deal with a variety of outbreaks.

Wyoming conducts a large-scale exercise once every few years using federal funds from the Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program.

"In the event of a real emergency were we to order the strategic national stockpile of course our residents would receive any of the medications that they needed free of charge," Dr. Wendy Braund, a state health official, said, KGWN.TV reports. "We hope than an event like this never occurs, but it is very important to be ready.

In an actual emergency, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control would be contacted in order to access the U.S. strategic national stockpile.

"They promise to get us these supplies within 12 hours is what everybody's prepared for. We're supposed to get them into the hands of everybody in Wyoming. We're supposed to show that we can do that within 48 hours," Kim Deti of the Wyoming Health Department said, KGWN.TV reports.

Braund said Wyoming faces special obstacles when it comes to distributing medication, including the challenge of the long distances between towns.

The National Guard's Civil Support Team, the Wyoming Highway Patrol, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Transportation and area fire districts were among the agencies participating in the drill. Officials said they are unsure of how much it will cost.

"An exercise of this magnitude is not done every year," Braund said, WyomingNews.com reports. "It really is a large collaborative effort."