Emergency preparation

By Kelsey Schutz

Plans are currently underway for the Morgan County Health Department’s Emergency Preparedness Exercise, and volunteers are needed to participate in this exciting opportunity. The event will take place at the Morgan County Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 9, and will reflect a real life crisis situation. The goal of the exercise is to test the community’s preparedness to handle a wide spread, catastrophic event.

According to Morgan County Health Department’s Administrator, Dale Bainter, the event aims to imitate a community wide disaster. “In the scenario we’ll be using, we will be responding to an anthrax incident. We’ll be trying to provide medicine to test our Drive Thru Clinic Dispensing Unit to see how fast we can get those medicines into the community,” explained Bainter. “We’ll be looking to see how rapidly we can triage and treat 750 plus individuals.”

In addition to this exercise, the Morgan County Health Department practices their ability to provide treatment to a large number of individuals through the Flu Vaccine Clinic held annually at the Jacksonville High School Bowl. During this day and a half event, nearly 2000 participants receive vaccinations.

While next month’s exercise will specifically focus on disseminating medication, the same process would be used if any type of supplies needed to be provided to the community during an emergency. Community wide emergencies may include manmade inflictions, weather related natural disasters, or an emerging infectious illnesses.

“You never know when a tornado is going to happen, similar to the one that occurred in Washington, Illinois, where we would have to activate our emergency plan for real. The only way we can prepare for that is by practicing,” stated Bainter.

In order for this event to occur, there is a desperate need for volunteers to serve as players or actors that, in the scenario, have been exposed to anthrax.

“It’s almost reminiscent of participating in a drama production because we will have scripts for people to kind of follow and be players in the event,” added Bainter. “If there is an organization that wants to donate their time that morning or even if it’s just a family, basically anyone that is interested can come take part in it.”

In addition to the community volunteers, local law enforcement and emergency personnel will be participating in the event. Banter is hopeful that the citizens of Morgan County will assist in this emergency preparedness exercise.

“This community is definitely very active in trying to participate in organizations and groups. It always amazes me the response we get from Morgan County during events like these,” said Bainter.

Individuals or organizations interested in volunteering for are encouraged to contact Carol Hungerford by April 30th via phone (217 245 5111) or by email (carol.hungerford@morganhd.com). During the morning of the event, participants should gather at 10 a.m. at the southeast gate for a briefing regarding the scenario. The drill will begin at 10:30 a.m. and is expected to last an hour. At the conclusion of the exercise, lunch will be provided to all participants.

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About the author

Kelsey Schutz hails from White Hall and is an adventure junkie. Traveling (46 countries and counting), practical joking, and spending time on her family’s farm are among her passions.

View all articles by Kelsey Schutz

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