Preparing For Biological Hazards

By Nick Perreault

June 8, 2011 Updated Jun 8, 2011 at 10:14 PM CDT

The Anthrax Scare in 2001 changed the way many post offices operate. The U.S. Postal Service has bio-detection systems in place to alert of a possible attack.

Peoria was among five counties to participate in a Bio Hazard practice scenario on Wednesday.

"We are having the employees act as if the alarm has gone off, that we have the potential for anthrax in the building," said U.S Postal Service Spokesman, Jose Aguilar.

This exercise is part of a federal citywide readiness initiative.

"It's to prepare communities for health emergencies or any kind of hazards," said Diana Scott, Peoria Health Department.

In the event of an emergency, employees would first be evacuated to a common place out of the building for a proper head count. They would then be guided by officials through a decontamination area and continue to a medical checkpoint. At the checkpoint, the public health department would assess if there were any viruses and issue proper medication.

Scott says the training is not only good for the employees, but also allows the health departments to work with various Central Illinois County Agencies and local police and fire.

"We have never had larger drills, where we test things such as biological hazards and those types of things, so we have always got room to learn, which is why we are continually exercising to prepare for the next event," Scott said.

Wednesday's exercises are just one part of a multi-day training program conducted throughout the five counties.

There is an event scheduled for Tazewell County on Thursday.

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