Volunteers Needed for Emergency Preparedness Anthrax Drill at SHU

News Story: July 1, 2011

University Commons at Sacred Heart University will be the site of an emergency preparedness anthrax drill on Wednesday, July 27, from 10 a.m. to noon. Organizers are looking for volunteers from the community to participate in the drill.

"What we know from the tornado we experienced last year, and the wealth of events we see on TV - is that if we are unprepared - unforeseen events can net disastrous outcomes. This drill will ensure that we are adequately prepared to face any disaster – whether viral, terrorist or otherwise.  These kinds of exercises help us educate ourselves, and the public, about what to do and how to do it through simulation so we’re ready in case a real disaster strikes. Please join us to learn how to help yourself and your community,” said Kristin duBay-Horton, director of Health and Social Services for the City of Bridgeport.

“We are hoping to get as many volunteers as possible. Our goal is to have at least 200 people there,” said Terron Jones of the Bridgeport Health and Social Services Department. “Children are welcome, and we especially encourage non-English speaking residents to come out and join us.”

To sign up as a volunteer, you can call the Bridgeport Health and Social Services Department at (203) 576-7024 or e-mail Jones at tarron.jones@bridgeportct.gov. Walk-ins also will be welcome the day of the event. The first 100 volunteers to arrive at the site on July 27 will receive an emergency preparedness giveaway. Volunteers do not necessarily need to spend the entire two hours at the drill.

Dr. Linda Strong, director of Sacred Heart’s RN-BSN nursing program, said the drill will benefit Sacred Heart as well as the local communities. “Any emergent health issue or disaster that affects the local communities has the potential to affect Sacred Heart. We have a great relationship with our local communities, and we have the facilities to host this kind of event,” she said.

She noted that in the event of an emergency, the University would work with neighboring municipalities to supplement the existing SHU emergency health care assests. “This drill will also give us the opportunity to test our own emergency preparedness plan. A test like this will show us what works and what doesn’t,” she said.

Jones said the test scenario will be that the Bridgeport Health and Social Department receives a report of an anthrax threat at the train station, and there are 10 confirmed cases. In that scenario, the protocol would be to provide medication to every city resident. As in a real threat situation, residents will be asked several questions about their medical history and will be given one of three medications. “Only in this case, it will be one of three kinds of candy,” Jones said.

The Bridgeport and Fairfield police departments and American Medical Response will be on hand the day of the drill, and Strong expects a strong contingent of Sacred Heart staff and students to be among the volunteers. “I have participated in these drills many times, and it’s always an incredible experience – whether you participate as a patient or as medical or emergency personnel,” she said.