Hospitals react to mock attack
A mock anthrax attack brought hundreds of Hawaii hospital workers together recently to test procedures for dealing with bioterrorism.
Twelve hospitals of different sizes across the state participated in the exercise, conducted by the state Department of Health and the Healthcare Association of Hawaii.
About 10 percent of the medical staff at the hospitals were involved, said Toby Clairmont, the association's director of emergency services.
The purpose was to test and improve the state's ability to distribute medication to hospital workers in a potential anthrax threat or other disaster, such as avian flu or plague, Clairmont said.
The potential scenarios include any "where we need to get something to health workers and hit them all," he said. "They're front line and seeing sick people coming in. If we expect them to be there for patients, we have to implement procedures to ensure their safety."
State Health Director Chiyome Fukino, in a news release, said, "As part of our public health emergency plan, we want to make sure Hawaii's health care providers are one of the first groups to receive medication" so they can provide care for the public.
Activation of the Strategic National Stockpile was simulated to test the receipt, storage, tracking and delivery of medication to participating hospitals and staff.
Antibiotics, chemical antidotes, life-support medications and other medical supplies are stockpiled so local and state public health agencies can draw on them in a national emergency.
Clairmont said the exercise was conducted in two phases. The Health Department worked with Healthcare Association of Hawaii emergency services in the morning to distribute medications to the hospitals.
In the afternoon, employees were screened at distribution points to receive medications for themselves and their families.