Postal workers participate in bioterror drill

Throughout the summer, volunteers with the U.S. Postal Service are participating in a pilot bioterrorism program in five cities around the country to prepare for a biological terror attack.

As part of the scenario, police-escorted postal workers will deliver up to two bottles of fake emergency doxycyclene to a total of two million households in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Louisville, San Diego, Boston and Philadelphia. While the bottles of pills will not contain real drugs, the delivery will appear real to prepare local officials for a legitimate terrorist attack, the Washington Post reports.

Three years ago, President Obama issued an executive order to create a model in which postal workers could deliver medication during a widespread biological emergency. The household delivery would prevent the population from panicking and could reduce long lines at medicine distribution centers. The U.S. Postal Service has teamed up with the Department of Health and Human Services, state and local officials and law enforcement agencies to put the $10 million plan into practice.

"Our idea is to get the medicine out there as quickly as we can, so we can help health officials set up other dispensing locations," Jude Plessas, the manager of the program, said, according to the Washington Post. "We're using an infrastructure that already exists to help with the local response."

While mail carriers cannot be forced to be first responders in a bioterrorism incident, hundreds have volunteered and have been trained to participate in the plan. Officials said that in case of a real anthrax attack, the mail carriers could be deployed within hours.