Montana city simulates anthrax attack

The City-County Health Department of Great Falls, Montana, recently conducted its first large scale terror emergency drill aimed at testing its response to a bioterror attack at the Montana State Fair.

CCHD staff and numerous volunteers gathered to test the policies and procedures that had been put in place to protect the area from the large scale dispersion of anthrax spores, according to

"The public health department plans and prepares for all kinds of different emergencies," Kate Marone, the spokesperson for CCHD, said, according to "How are we going to get the anti-biotic medication into the people that were exposed, so that they can stay healthy and safe, after that potential exposure? But we can't do that alone."

Volunteers were enlisted to play a variety of roles. Some panicked, others had trouble breathing and some simply wanted to hurry and get it all over with so they could get home to their loved ones.

"People aren't gonna always be calm," Barbara Bessette, who works for the C.C.H.D, said, according to "So, then, I will be more prepared in how I can help those people that are acting anxious. We have to plan for how we would get it out to 82,000 people, the entire county's population, within 48 hours."

Marcus Collins volunteered to play a person with an invalid mother who also needed treatment.

"My character was a person that was very impatient with the staff, who was trying to get their medication for the anthrax," Collins said afterwards to "I would never say what I would or would not do, but I think that, in disasters, we're gonna come across a lot of different people and a lot of different moods and attitudes, even within ourselves."

At the end of the exercise, the staff and volunteers conducted a debriefing session where they explained what went right and, just as importantly, what could be improved on.