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Preparing for an Outbreak

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  • Preparing for an Outbreak

    Preparing for an Outbreak

    By Santosh Rao

    Robin Arturo displayed all the normal symptoms of the flu - runny nose, dry cough, muscle aches, fever and extreme fatigue.

    The 76-year-old woman also had a history of dementia and severe allergies, with bouts of confusion.

    Fortunately, Arturo was only a fictitious character - one of many that were brought to life at the "Flip Flop Flu" Mock Outbreak Drill at Johnsburg High School Saturday.

    About 200 people were expected to volunteer as victims of the flu pandemic drill, led by McHenry County Department of Health personnel and the county's Medical Reserve Corps volunteers.

    A health department official said the exercise would help to determine the county's level of preparedness in the event of a public health emergency.

    Saturday's annual drill was the first involving Medical Reserve Corps volunteers, said Keri Zaleski, MCDH Emergency Response Coordinator.

    Zaleski said the exercise would also help emergency responders find supplemental methods of dispensing preventive medication or vaccinations to people in the shortest time while maintaining a high level of order and service.

    She noted that county law enforcement played an integral part in the success of the exercise.

    Ideally, she said, the goal would be to serve all the county's residents and dispense the medication in a 48-hour period.

    "The procedure and plan would be the same in any disaster response, whether it's terrorist-related or a natural disaster," Zaleski added.

    John Schmidtke and his son Zach, of Crystal Lake, were among those who volunteered to be victims of the flu outbreak.

    Zach, 11, a member of the Boy Scout Troop 222, said he was impressed by the organization of the drill, and the knowledge of the health department and MRC volunteers.

    "They really knew what they were doing and how to help us, so I think we'll be OK if (an outbreak) really happened," he said.

    Retired nurse Judy Morrison of Algonquin, who was stationed at the Complex Screening table, said she looked forward to preparing herself for a similar emergency situation and to be in a position to offer help.

    "With all the threats that we face today, from terrorists especially, it's important to be prepared for anything," she said.

    Zaleski said the McHenry County emergency response team would draw up an after-action report and a corrective action plan from staff and volunteer evaluations over the next three months.

    (c) 2007 Daily Herald; Arlington Heights, Ill.. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

    Source: Daily Herald; Arlington Heights, Ill.