Counties run mass dispensing event at Milaca Schools

News Emergency Drill

On July 29 emergency health officials from Mille Lacs and Isanti counties came together to run a mass dispensing drill.
The exercise, which was performed with the help of more than 100 volunteers, simulated the response to an aerosolized anthrax attack.
“These exercises prepare us for when mass disasters happen,” said Melissa Carstensen, a public information officer with Isanti County.
“H1N1 a couple years ago was a big thing, and that was as close to a mass dispense as we’ve been in the last 10 years, and anthrax is always a threat.”
The event started with dozens of volunteers simulating being infected from an anthrax attack spread from a jet drop or dust crop spray. The “infected” people came to the Milaca Schools complex, which was cordoned off in a way to flow the “infected” in the right place by the police and sheriff departments.
In the exercise, potentially infected persons then registered outside and entered the school. They were given paperwork based on the symptoms that greeters determined they have. After the paperwork was filled out, they were ushered down the hall and divided based on their medicinal needs.
They were then directed to the dispensaries, handled by nurses, and based on their paperwork and where they were sent, received medication to help counteract their symptoms.
Once the volunteers of the exercise were done, most then went through additional times, but with different scenarios.
One such scenario was that a woman spoke only German, so health officials needed to find a German translator to get her into the proper place. Throughout the exercise, observers took notes on what worked well and what did not.
“From these exercises, we find what we can change, what needs to be adjusted,” Carstensen said. “We also look for what we need more of, so we can be the most prepared when something happens.”
After the exercise, volunteers were fed lunch, which Carstensen said was well-deserved.
“The coordination of the volunteers was amazing,” Carstensen said.
Similar exercises have been executed in the past in both Isanti and Mille Lacs counties. The exercise was run by Katie Smith, the emergency preparedness coordinator for Mille Lacs County.