McLean County was hit with an anthrax scare in an emergency simulation that played out at Redbird Arena on Friday.
In the exercise the McLean County Health Department presented with the county’s Emergency Management Agency, the Normal Fire Department, Illinois State University’s EMA and other universities departments, the department created a fictional scenario.
The county was notified by the governor, according to the mock drill, that it had 24 hours to respond to a suspected inhalation anthrax attack by dispensing emergency medications to the masses.
The participating agencies staged the drill with the help of dozens of volunteers who acted as members of the public with various needs.
The goal is to see how health and emergency responders could handle a mass distribution of medications.
MacCartney Britton of Colchester played a man who couldn't speak English.
“Not only was it confusing for (the workers) but it was actually confusing for me (as the actor) because when they don’t know how to react it’s going to put a lot of stress on an actual victim,” Britton said.
The goal of the event was to see what gaps need to be filled and what problems could health officials better anticipate.
Ginny Riggins of Normal was among the volunteers posing as a member of the public. In one scenario she played a young mother who had to bring her two kids.
“I had to fill out information on a clipboard and I probably have this four-month-old infant in front of me in a pack and maybe I have the 2-year-old in a stroller,” Riggins said. “I’m thinking that would have been quite challenging.”
Riggins suggests more staff would have helped. McLean County Health Department Director Camille Rodrigeuz agreed, but added the event showed how well the various agencies work together.
“Do we agree that we definitely have some things to discuss and plan for? Obviously,” Rodriguez said. “But that’s why we are here doing this exercise today and that’s why we are so collaborative.”
Rodriguez said in a real emergency, they would need more staff and public transportation for those who couldn't get to the arena.
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