Press-Republican

November 6, 2012

Clinton County to hold anthrax-exposure drill

By JEFF MEYERS
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — Clinton County Health Department officials are looking for volunteer help from the community to practice a mass-immunization drill for anthrax exposure.

As with all local health departments in New York state, Clinton County’s has to hold such an event to help employees train for a possible disaster, whether of natural or human origin.

The Health Department has used the practice to distribute flu shots in the past but has focused on anthrax over the past two years.

“It’s a state mandate that we test our response (to a major catastrophe),” said Peggy Labombard of the Health Department’s Environmental Division. 

SIX QUESTIONS

Staff must show they can serve up to 50 people exposed to a danger such as anthrax in a 15-minute period, she explained.

Franklin County recently held a similar event, using students as its target population.

Clinton County is hoping to focus on senior citizens but is accepting all volunteers who would like to participate.

The distribution point, defined as any location where a large group meets to receive immunizations, will be the Senior Citizens Council, 5139 North Catherine St., Plattsburgh.

The drill will begin at 1 p.m. Volunteers will be scheduled at 15-minute increments for every set of 50 people registered.

Registration can be done online; the deadline is Nov. 30. Registrants will be asked a series of six questions to help health officials determine what kind of anthrax antibiotic they should be given.

“Some people, such as pregnant women, can only receive one specific kind of medicine,” Labombard explained. “If this were a real event, medication would be provided based on a medical history of those exposed.”

FIVE-DAY SUPPLY

For the Dec. 5 practice, volunteers with special medical conditions will be given M&Ms candies as their anthrax antibiotic, while everyone else will receive Skittles to simulate their treatment.

“In case of a real (anthrax) attack, those people exposed would go through a 60-day treatment,” Labombard said. “We will give out a five-day supply (of candies) during the drill. In a real event, everyone would be required to come back (for their next dose of antibiotics).”

For a real anthrax exposure, CVPH Medical Center would provide the Health Department with a five-day supply of antibiotics from its cache of emergency supplies. The region would receive additional supplies of medicine from the national stockpile.

Between 25 and 30 Health Department personnel will participate in the Dec. 5 event, along with representatives from the region’s Medical Reserve Corps and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department.

Email Jeff Meyers:

jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

HOW TO HELP To volunteer as a "victim" in the Clinton County Health Department's anthrax exposure drill on Wednesday at the Senior Citizens Council, 5139 North Catherine St., register at www.health.ny.gov/GoToClinic. Preregistration is required by Nov. 30. For more information, call the Health Department at 565-4870 and ask for Peggy.