Public Health Emergency Drill on Reservation

 Victoria Fregoso reports,
 Wyoming Indian Middle School was the site of an emergency preparedness drill today. Health officials on the Wind River Reservation went through the steps to respond to a public health emergency.

 Until now, health officials on the Wind River Reservation had only written out and discussed a plan for a public health emergency. But today, they put that plan into action.

"It's an exercise to make sure that we have staff that can stand up and do a POD to prevent any further exposure and to cover the people that might be exposed," said Terry Wilson, the Emergency Coordinator for Fremont County Public Health.

In this scenario, a letter delivered to the Northern Arapaho Tribal Office contained a white powder substance that was confirmed as Anthrax.
Health officials are trying to find out how long it would take to distribute medicine if 200 people were exposed to it.

"And once we figure out the time that it takes to have them come in and get screened and recieve the medicine and come back out, we will calculate the time that it would take for us to medicate the entire community," said Allison Sage who was the Incident Commander for this exercise.

At the point of distribution center, each person would fill out paper work to find out if they need medication or if they should be rushed to the emergency room.

"The ones who may have been exposed and are still well, are processed through the POD and they're given medication and exiting out the door," said Fernando Roman, the Tribal Health Emergency Coordinator.

In the event of a  public health emergency, schools would most likely be the site for patient screening and medicine distribution.

"We had the children come through from the Wyoming Indian Middle School and the Wyoming Indian schools," said Harmony Spoonhunter, Health Director for the Eastern Shoshoni Tribe. "So there is a lot of good collaboration within the community."

Drills like this give tribal, county and state health officials the opportunity to work together.

"We're all learning who reacts, how they react and it's just a building block," says Wilson. "How can we build from here to be better prepared, to take care of our own?"