Indianapolis postal service conducts anthrax exercise

The United States Postal Service is preparing its staffers in Indiana to respond to a bioterrorism-related emergency.

The Indianapolis USPS Main Processing and Distribution Center announced that is participating in a major preparedness exercise that will help police, fire and health department workers learn to respond to an anthrax emergency, according to

USPS Spokesperson Mary Dando said the exercise brings back memories of the 2001 anthrax attacks, when two postal workers lost their lives after handling anthrax-infected letters.

Dando said the post office regularly receives packages containing white powder. They are routinely isolated, tested and examined to determine their origins. She said the best means the USPS has to keep its staffers up-to-date on proper procedures is to conduct mock exercises like the one underway in Indianapolis, reports.

A plan to use postal workers to deliver life-saving medical countermeasures in case of a biological attack is currently being explored by the Cities Readiness Initiative, a federally funded program created in 2004 to help U.S. cities respond to an emergency.

Results from a recent exercise conducted in Minnesota showed that a sizable portion of postal employees would be willing to volunteer for such an assignment. Eighty-percent more postal employees than needed for the region offered to help, according to

There has been no mention of what effect proposed cuts in the USPS workforce could have on the MCM distribution plan.