Anthrax attack simulation held in Florida

Dozens of people pretended to have been infected with anthrax last week during a mock scenario at Lake Receptions by the Lake County Health Department in Mount Dora, Fla., to train health workers.  

An anthrax release was simulated at the popular Leesburg Bikefest. The anthrax spread throughout the county and infected residents. A medical staff consisting of about 20 nurses and medical staff members had 48 hours to get medicine to everyone in the county, represented by approximately 60 volunteer victims, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

Pam Christian, the public-health preparedness planner for the health department, told the Orland Sentinel that because there aren’t enough medical employees to reach out to the entire county, volunteers are needed. In 2009, public schools and the health department organized over a dozen swine flu immunization stations, many of which were staffed by volunteers.

"The reality is with the evolving times, you have to be able to adapt to those things," Sean Loughlin, a county disaster-assistance coordinator, said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "You can't ignore it. It's a known vulnerability."

As part of the exercise, volunteers lined up inside Lake Receptions and went through registration, evaluation, medication and form collection. Some were given pretend symptoms and were encouraged to fake accidents.

Gary Rice, a local 20-year-old paramedic student said that the scenario went well.

"I think it's pretty important because in a big situation, people need to be organized and know what they're doing," Rice said, according to the Orland Sentinel.