University of Wyoming simulates anthrax attack

Volunteers at the University of Wyoming participated in the first "Cowboy Ready" anthrax simulation drill on Wednesday to test the ability of the school and Albany County Public Health to respond to such an emergency.
Instead of receiving actual medication to treat anthrax, the UW faculty, staff and student participants received T-shirts as gifts of appreciation for playing the role of patients in the "point of dispensing" exercise. Organizers of the event said they were pleased with the response and happy with what they saw.
"My initial thoughts are that it worked very well," Nancy Fox, the director of UW's Environmental Health and Safety Department, said. "We were able to set up a POD and handle more than 200 patients from campus. In a real emergency we would need more volunteers, but this is exactly what we would have to do."
Officials for UW and Albany County Public Health identified the fieldhouse as the preferred on-campus site to distribute countermeasures in the event of a public health emergency.
The drill was intended to help health officials and UW test, improve and communicate their plans before a real disaster occurs. In addition, the drill served as a learning experience for students in UW's College of Health Sciences. Nearly 40 student volunteers served as the staff for the exercise, working in roles ranging from greeting "patients" to helping determine what type of medication they should receive.
"Now, in case something bad actually happens, we won't be running around like chickens with their heads cut off," Ryan Randall, a second year pharmacy student, said.
Several campus entities helped organize the event, including the School of Pharmacy, the Dean of Students Office, Student Health and Institutional Communications.
Beth Young of Albany County Public Health was delighted with the exercise.
"The most important thing is that UW was able to do it on its own with students, faculty and staff," Young said. "Albany County Public Health is sincerely appreciative of UW for hosting such a robust and realistic exercise."