Countering bioterrorism

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 29, 2002

Local pharmacists recently were allowed the opportunity to learn tips on how to handle a possible act of terrorism.

Pharmacists Samantha Caton, Tom Frye and Ewin Moody of Florala, Jerome Mallory of Andalusia and Lloyd Sellers of Opp and Pharmacy Technician Donna Moseley of Opp,

attended a Bioterrorism Training Program at the Houston County Health Department.

The program was presented by Charles Thomas, Rph, State Pharmacy Director

of the Alabama of the Alabama Department of Public Health.

The program provided five hours of training to participants, which included pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, nurses and Emergency Management Agency (EMA) personnel

from the Wiregrass area.

Dothan is one of five host sites in the state with an airport, and facilities large enough to process the materials needed to respond to a bioterrorism event, and would serve Covington, Coffee, Geneva, Dale, Pike,

Barbour, Russell, Henry and Houston counties.

Other host sites include Mobile, Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville, with each site servicing up to 19 counties.

The session included discussions about common bioterrorism weapons, including infectious organisms, and chemical agents and the treatment options available.

Use of the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NPS) was covered, including policies and procedures related to dispensing medications following a terrorism event.

This program is part of an ongoing training program, established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), designed to keep health professionals alert to the signs of a biological incident, and ready to respond within hours of notification through the Health Alert Network (HAN).

According to Sellers, who works at Dean's Pharmacy in Opp, the overall program was very educational and well conceived.

"The presentation was excellent although if frightened me," said Sellers. "I am of the mind frame that (the nation will received more acts of terrorism). It may not happen in Covington County, but it will happen somewhere.

Sellers, whose son Sean lives in New York and was three blocks away from the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11 acts of terrorism, said he felt the program would be an extremely educational one, which is why he took Pharmacy Technician Donna Moseley.

"(The program) was a very enlightening," said Sellers.

Frye, who is employed at the Pharmacare in Florala, also said he was impressed by the program.

"I thought (the program) was very good and I learned a lot," said Frye. "I learned about the processing of supplies needed to deal with certain events, which is basically a jumbo jet filled with antibiotics and other medical supplies."

He said he learned that these materials can be deployed within 12 hours of a call about some type of bioterrorism event.

"It is just good knowing how fast you could respond to such a (bioterrorism) event and state citizens can feel comfortable knowing that health officials will be ready to respond to such an emergency," said Frye.

"It is absolutely good knowing that a good plan is in place."