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Today, local public health officials and hospitals put themselves to the test...to see how they would handle a flu pandemic and more specifically, the mass distribution of vaccines from the Strategic National Stockpile. There were five sites across Southwest Missouri that participated in the state exercise. KSMU's Missy Shelton was at Central High School in Springfield where she followed a student volunteer who was playing the role of a patient.
His real name is Eric Ramirez...He's a seventeen year old summer school student at Central High School but for the exercise, he assumes a different identity.
So, Carter enters Central High School by going through a turnstile.
And then he stops at a check-in table.
But before Carter can fill out the form, Dennis Lewis, an officer with Springfield Public Schools stops him and the group of reporters following him...security is one key part of the exercise...apparently, the group did not have permission to enter the site.
The group left even though another security guard had indicated we all had the proper identification to enter the site...After everyone in the group received official visitor passes, we re-entered...Heather Baer is public information officer for the Columbia-Boone County Health Department and was escorting media groups through the site.
Once our pretend patient Carter begins to fill out his form, he has several questions to consider.
After filling out the form, Carter takes it to another area where he gives it to a woman seated behind a table.
Carter goes to another table where he receives his medication.
Then Carter believes he must go to another table where he hears information about a different kind of medication.
After receiving instruction on a medication he wasn't given, Carter leaves the building.
He says he had a positive experience but...
And part of what the exercise is all about is seeing what officials can do to improve their ability to distribute medication to a large number of people in a short period of time.
Greene County Commissioner and former director of the Springfield Greene County Health Department Harold Bensgch served as a trained evaluator of the exercise.
Specific information on what went right and what needs improvement will not be made public.
But state officials say this kind of exercise helps ensure that local officials are prepared to handle a flu pandemic.