Drill to test for pandemic readiness - East Valley Tribune: News

Drill to test for pandemic readiness

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Posted: Friday, March 23, 2007 6:27 am | Updated: 7:19 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

When disaster strikes, Scottsdale will be ready. Or at least that is the aim of the Coyote Crisis Campaign, a disaster-preparedness drill planned for April.

The campaign is designed so officials from hospitals, the military, fire, police and the city practice communicating in the event of a large-scale disaster.

This year, the campaign will simulate a pandemic flu virus that has knocked out 40 percent of the work force. Last year, a terrorism attack was simulated.

“When you’re looking at a pandemic, it’s hitting every place at once. How are we as a community going to deal with it here?” said Judy Crider, executive director for Leaders In Non-Partisan Knowledgebased Solutions, which is dedicated to finding solutions to local policy questions.

“Everyone from the top down admits you are going to be on your own dealing with this,” Crider said.

During the campaign, hundreds of “patients” with bird flu symptoms will arrive at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn and Scottsdale Healthcare Shea hospitals.

Hospital staff will handle the flu patients, screen employees and physicians as they enter the buildings and enact access control points, according to hospital officials.

Visitors to the hospital that day may be asked to pass through a flu screening and receive educational materials on flu, hospital officials said.

The drill also will allow police and fire personnel to practice communicating on open channels, and they will attempt to do the job with fewer people, said Lorenzo Jones, Scottsdale Fire Department emergency management officer.

One of the main thrusts of the drill will be to educate the public, Jones said.

“We need to get the community prepared so they are not so reliant on the government and learn how to sustain themselves,” he said.

Jones said the campaign also will encourage businesses to create a backup plan.

“We’ll need to help business owners get back on their feet because they don’t have the resources the city does,” he said.

As far as the likelihood of a pandemic flu, no one can predict what might happen. But it’s happened in the past.

In 1997, bird flu infected 18 people in Hong Kong and killed six of them, according to the National Institutes of Health. Since then, 112 people have caught bird flu and more than half of them died.

“That’s the fine line we walk as emergency managers,” Jones said. “This could very well not happen at all. Is it a waste? No, not in the sense that we’re all getting prepared.”

Coyote Crisis Campaign

What: A disaster drill involving hospitals, businesses, military and government to test their readiness for a pandemic flu

When: April 23-27

Where: Scottsdale Healthcare hospitals, Mayo Clinic Scottsdale, Arizona State University

Information: www.coyotecampaign.org

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