LINCOLN COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF)– The Health Department conducted an emergency exercise in Lincoln County Saturday. It was all to test a medicine dispensing site in the event of a public health emergency.
The whole purpose behind this exercise is to make sure Georgia Department of Public Health employees are able to medicate the entire population within 48 hours if a public health emergency were to arise.
Saturday in Lincoln County, the hypothetical bio-terrorism outbreak was anthrax.
“It’s very fast paced. This is meant to be a drive thru model where we have to medicate every single resident in the county, so that’s a massive undertaking,” Hilary Daniel, the Lincoln County Nurse Manager, said.
She said every county in Georgia has to do a similar drill, mandated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 300 East Central Health employees participated in Saturday’s exercise.
“We had the two medications that the state would send us, and we give those out based on allergies, based on age, based on weight; things like that,” Daniel said.
That “medicine” is actually coffee beans. There were several stations set up– the first station was for paperwork, then a screening. After, patients with no health conditions were directed to an “express lane”, and those that have health problems went to an “additional assistance lane.”
“There’s a physician there. There’s a nurse practitioner there– somebody that can really break it down and talk to them. They’ll spend a lot more time there,” Daniel said.
This exercise took only two hours to complete. Stephen Goggans, the District Health Director for the East Central Health District, said most of the time is spent planning, which in this case was 11 months.
“What would happen if this were to happen tomorrow? You wouldn’t have months and months to prepare to save lives,” NewsChannel 6’s Samantha Williams asked.
“That’s very true. That’s why you practice, so everyone knows their role, so we would have a lot shorter lead time– it’d be less than a day,” Goggans said.
“It’s important that the community knows if this were to really happen, I wouldn’t have my employees from East Central Health District. It would be up to the community to come out and help,” Daniel said.