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Exercise focuses on anthrax procedures

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A Franklin school will be turned into a treatment center this week, where health department employees will practice how to respond to a local disaster or pandemic.

Employees will gather from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Franklin Community Middle School. Students will serve as patients needing to get medication from the center.

The group will pretend that anthrax has spread in Johnson County. The infectious disease is killing off residents, and the health department has been called in to help. Workers will set up the center and then practice how to gather people’s information and distribute medicine to defend against the disease as quickly as possible.

The anthrax scenario is helpful because the disease would spread quickly and require the county to immediately start giving out pills to large numbers of people, health department public health coordinator Betsy Swearingen said.

The scenario is part of the county’s emergency preparedness plan, and this week’s training is an annual exercise to make sure workers are trained in the event of a real emergency, Swearingen said. The procedure could be used for any emergency in which staff would need to give out large amounts of medicine or supplies.

“It’s pills to the people,” Swearingen said.

“We’re just going to use (students) to come through and receive their treatment, and it trains us on how quickly we can set up and how quickly we can help people.”

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