S.C. has test run for bioterror vaccination program

A temporary hospital was erected on the Lexington County, South Carolina ball fields to vaccinate citizens against swine flu while simultaneously acting as a test run for public safety workers, health care workers and volunteers to prepare for a bioterror event.

Equipment used for the vaccination, which was planned following the H1N1 outbreak in April, utilized equipment purchased over the past several years with federal homeland security grants.

The makeshift hospital's tent, the county's EMS director Brian Hood told TheState.com, could be erected in under 90 minutes, facilitating the administration of treatment for flu, anthrax or other medical emergencies.

As many as 50 patients could be treated at one time in another longer-term medical tent, which was built to withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour.

Portable generators were used to power the test vaccination project, allowing workers to determine how long fuel supplies would last in the event of an emergency and if an on-site fuel truck would be needed for a longer-term emergency.

"Can you go to a place that doesn't have the infrastructure and do this?" Hood told TheState.com. "If we're in the middle of a cornfield tomorrow we can do the same thing."

State, county, town and hospital professionals were utilized by organizers for the vaccination study as well as volunteers from the S.C. Baptist Disaster Relief Group and the Community Emergency Response team. The groups were working together for the first time during the event.

"It's much more an opportunity for us to work the logistics," Hood said, "to work the bugs out."