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Medical Edge: Disaster Drills

CINCINNATI (WKRC) -- Hundreds of people in the tri-state participated in a special disaster drill at the Cintas Center by standing in line to get an empty pill bottle.
It's empty but what it represents, according to the Cininnati Health Department, is an intervention that could potentially save your life.  In the movie "Outbreak," years ago, a virus similar to Ebola, which shuts down the body, was transferred here from a small African town. 

While scares like these may seem a distant memory, as these headlines show, a newer strain has just popped up in another part of Africa killing 120 people according to the World Health Organization.  This and other types of outbreaks, is why all these people are at this disaster drill.

Dr. Steve Englender said, "We are testing our ability to provide medications were there to be a biological attack."

Volunteers have given up their day to help conduct this test.  It's designed to be a dry run should there be an outbreak of a contagious disease or what Doctor Englender refers to as "class A agent contamination."

"Things  like Anthrax, Turemia, plague or even Smallpox.  There's a longer list, but for all of those counter measures like we are doing today could be used to prevent disease," Englender said.

The goal is to find out do we have the people, the medications, the resources, and the system to make sure this all works together should we have this kind of a disaster.  Each persons potential intervention has to be based on their individual health information.  You can't just assume one size, or in this case, one disease fighting compound fits all.

Rebecca Stowe, a volunteer, tells us, "We came in and filled out a form, based on family, size, weights, and then they sent us to a line based on that information and now we are waiting for our medications to be dispensed."

Those can't be dispensed without public health providers learned more by, "Asking if there's any allergies, asking if anyone is pregnant, if there's any children under 99 pounds," another volunteer named Barry Chambers said.

And by asking some of those same questions again in case of everything from reading to language to communication barriers.  You'd likely be notified of where to go should this happen where you live through social media ,TV and radio reports.  You'd likely need this kind of medication within about forty eight hours of exposure so how fast people flow through is one of the primary objectives to measure.

Thursday was just one part of a larger disaster plan.  It's expected to be evaluated for what worked and what did not for future follow up and intervention.

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