Arizona seeks volunteers for anthrax attack simulation

Maricopa County and Gilbert, Arizona, are conducting a drill on April 2 designed to prepare residents and public health officials for a potential anthrax attack.

The threat of an attack is acknowledged to be low, but the county Public Health Office of Preparedness and Response wants to know how quickly responders can distribute medicine to the public in the event of an emergency, according to

"This gives us a chance to look at (the county's emergency-response plans) locally, test it and practice it," Sheri Gibbons, the emergency management coordinator for the Gilbert Fire Department, said, according to “The concept is a public-health emergency that would require the county to dispense antibiotics to the people of Maricopa County."

In an emergency, Maricopa County officials would be tasked with dispensing medicine to the public.

"All of our public-health services are provided by Maricopa County," Gibbons said, reports. "They have a tremendous task in trying to deliver these antibiotics to 3.7 million people across the valley."

A point of distribution exercise is conducted annually in the area, during which volunteers are screened and given medication for a particular type of attack.

Volunteers are still being sought for this year’s exercise. Officials hope to have found at least 200 people willing to participate by the scheduled start time. Those participating will receive a free lunch and a prepaid gas card to compensate them for their time and the use of their vehicles.