DC-area exercise simulating anthrax attack needs volunteers

Sometimes, WTOP warns you about emergency exercises so you’re not alarmed. This time, a drill dubbed “Capital Fortitude” needs the help of D.C.-area residents.

“It’s going to test our ability to dispense medication quickly in response to a biological attack,” said John Silcox, communications director for the Fairfax County Health Department. “It’s really going to test our ability to coordinate within our own communities and regionally.”

The Public Health Emergency Planners Subcommittee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments organized the simulated anthrax attack event, which involves D.C. and more than 20 jurisdictions in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Over the next few days, health departments want volunteers to help put them to the test by showing up to designated distribution points for medicine.

“A lot of jurisdictions are doing that on Friday, which is when we’re doing it — from 10 a.m. to noon,” Silcox said.

Some health departments need volunteers on Saturday.

The three day exercise runs July 17-20, and will also include early warning systems, public information, law enforcement and communications processes.

“First responder agencies are coordinating on how they would respond to an event like this and how they would put their plans into action,” Silcox said.

Area governments that are asking for medication distribution volunteers include the following:

D.C.

Maryland

Virginia

Volunteers will not receive any actual medicine, they’ll just allow public health staff to go through the motion of performing the same procedures and protocols they would if there was a real emergency.

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