Drill prepares local crews for bioterrorist attack

Posted at 12:07 PM, Jun 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-14 14:54:46-04

Health officials practiced responding to a large-scale, bioterrorist attack at UW-Milwaukee on Tuesday.

The drill was put on by the UW-Milwaukee, City of Milwaukee Health Department, and North Shore Health Department.

The exercise simulated a scenario in which the Anthrax disease was released into the air by terrorists and blown throughout the area by the wind.

The disease can be deadly if those impacted don’t receive the necessary antibiotics within 48 hours.

Ann Christiansen, Health Director/Officer for the North Shore Health Department, said the exercise gave local health professionals the opportunity to practice working together and handing out the medicines to a large number of people.

UW-Milwaukee’s Klotsche Center served as the distribution site for the drill.

“We work to get these antibiotics out to people as quickly as possible so we can minimize the impact,” she said.

“If an event like this were to happen here, we’ve already run through this and practiced it many times,” Christiansen said.

She said in the event of a real bioterrorism emergency, distribution sites would be set up around Milwaukee and the North Shore.

Bevan Baker, Commissioner of Health for the City of Milwaukee, said training for bioterrorist threats is “the new normal.”

“I don’t think we’ll have a day when we won’t have to be prepared for all these various hazards,” Baker said.

“We’re all vulnerable,” he said. “But the fact that we can come together and practice being prepared makes our community stronger.”

Dr. Julie Bonner, Campus Health Officer at UW-Milwuakee, said the school regularly works together with local health departments.

While the Anthrax disease is not typically contagious, she said it was good experience for campus officials to practice distributing large quantities of treatment.

“In a university setting that experience is extremely important, given the way the community lives together and works together,” Bonner said.