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Local Health Department Plans Emergency Exercise


On June 14th, officials with the Springfield Green County Health Department will test their ability to distribute medicine in an emergency situation. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

On June 14th, officials with the Springfield Green County Health Department will test their ability to distribute medicine in an emergency situation.

As part of the exercise, the health department will set up 2 points of distribution...one at Central High School in Springfield and one at Willard High School.

Kevin Gipson is director of the health department.

He made a presentation to Springfield City Council today about the upcoming exercise and the health department's ability to handle a flu pandemic.

Gipson estimates that a flu pandemic could impact up to 30 percent of the population.

Speaking to reporters after the presentation, Gipson says it's important for local health departments to prepare since there's unlikely to be federal and state assistance during a widespread outbreak of the flu.

He says that's a lesson local officials learned from the response last year to Hurricane Katrina.

Gipson says he's confident Springfield and Greene County are taking the necessary steps to prepare for a pandemic.

The upcoming exercise is designed to test the health department's ability to distribute medicine, regardless of what causes the pandemic.

Certainly, bird flu has been in the news and Gipson says there are growing concerns about the potential for this virus to mutate and infect humans.

Gipson says there is no vaccine for bird flu.

A team of independent evaluators from the Centers for Disease Control will observe the June 14th emergency exercise by the Springfield Greene County Health and will rate the performance of healthcare workers.