Have you heard about "Operation New Year" in the news? Probably not, unless you live in Dallas County.
The Public Health Preparedness Division of the Dallas County Health & Human Services department, along with the Medical Reserve Corps, held 2016's first medical countermeasure dispensing exerise at Loos Fieldhouse in Addison, Texas this morning. This was a mock disaster exercise to test local response to a bioterrorism threat.
Addison citizens Linda Berthold, Mary Jo Cater and I, plus dozens of others, volunteered at the community-wide role-playing exercise. The MetroCrest cities of Addison, Coppell, Carrollton and Farmers Branch were involved, and volunteer "staff members" from Dallas County and Denton County participated.Bioterrorism
Our initial screening consisted of being asked questions about our general health (we had to be in good "fake" health to get into the triage area) and then we proceeded to the forms table where we completed questionaires about allergies to medicines, seizures, the possibility of pregnancy, and other medical conditions. We were told for the purposes of this exercise to provide ficticious information. The "patient" participants were sent to two-person teams of real disaster & health specialists who evaluated the information we provided on the forms and dispensed appropriate fake medication. We were "real volunteers." There were also undercover volunteer/graders, assessing the overall response by the staffers.
We were asked to participate a second time since the volume of volunteers was not as great as expected, so we got even more creative on the questionnaires the second time through.
I'm glad the county is preparing for all contingencies but I hope they never have to use these disaster skills in real life.