Hamilton County Health Department prepares for bioterrorist atta - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Hamilton County Health Department prepares for bioterrorist attack

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

Hamilton County emergency agencies took over Hixson High School Friday to train against a bioterrorist attack.

Those attacks are real threats in the United States and local agencies want to be prepared, along with the community.

The Hamilton County Health Department has been planning this training simulation for more than a year and tested out the it out on Friday to see if it could really save lives.

"And so what we're doing here is testing our written plans to see if saying what we're going to do will actually work," said Sabrina Novak, Emergency Response Coordinator.

In this training exercise, terrorists released airborne anthrax into the community and hundreds of people went to Hixson High school for vaccines. 

Emergency response teams plan and execute a drill of this magnitude once every five years.
    
They need to see how long it takes to hand out medications to large groups of people,because if this were real, every minute counts.

"Within a 48 hour period of time we're giving pills and potentially vaccine to all residents and visitors of our county within that time period," Novak said.

The set up at Hixson High is called a POD, or point of dispensing.
    
During an outbreak nearly a dozen POD's will be set up across the county to get people needed vaccines. Residents will be alerted by the Health Department where to go, what information they need to bring before dispensing medicines.
    
Agencies want the community to know what a POD is, and what it can do, before a real threat is present.

"God forbid anything of this magnitude ever happens but I think we're better prepared because we've practiced it, and you play like you practice so hopefully that's what we'll learn from this," said Tony Reavley, Dir. of Emergency Services & Homeland Security.

The training exercise lasted for several hours on Friday. Agencies will critique how this drill went and make changes in case of a real emergency. The main objective of this drill is to see how long it will take to vaccinate all 330,000 people of Hamilton County.

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