Daily Herald
May 13, 2008

Suburban firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers gathered today with hundreds of volunteers at the Sears Centre arena in Hoffman Estates to test how efficient the area’s emergency plan is when it comes to distributing antibiotics to combat threats such as anthrax.

More than 20 emergency departments were on hand for the drill, where volunteer victims were given scripted roles. Some of the volunteers were to get microchips like those attached to the shoes of marathon runners to time how long it takes them to go through the lines. Event sponsors were hoping for as many as 3,000 volunteers.

Emergency personnel, under the watch of the Cook County and Illinois departments of public health, were to hand out pill bottles.

Though the exercise will last only a few hours, the full-scale emergency plan’s goal is to be able to distribute medicines to a population of 50,000 to 100,000 within a 72-hour window. The thinking is that under real threat, a family member could go through the screening and bring pills home to relatives.

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