April 21, 2008
OCALA – Five schools have been identified as sites to administer life-saving drugs in the case of a pandemic flu outbreak, an anthrax attack or other extreme emergency that might affect the county.
The schools were announced at the bi-monthly Marion County School Board workshop held at the School District headquarters in downtown Ocala this week.
Dr. Nate Grossman, the Marion County Health Department director, told the School Board that health department workers are completing the county’s plan in compliance with the Strategic National Stockpile Plan.
He said the plan was developed after the terrorist attacks of 2001 and the subsequent anthrax attacks, including those in South Florida. The schools will be drug distribution sites to give medicine to all 300,000 Marion County residents.
The schools, which were chosen based on location, accessibility and facilities, are Fort McCoy School and four high schools: West Port, Forest, North Marion and Belleview.
Theresa Clavier, Marion County Health Department nursing consultant, said the idea is to get unaffected people medicine quickly in an emergency, such as an anthrax attack.
“We want to get medicine to the people within 48 hours,” she said. “We must get pills to the people to save lives.”
School Board member Bobby James was concerned because none of the schools were near West Ocala, an area where many of the residents may not be able to drive so far to one of the named schools.
“Why wasn’t Vanguard [High School] or Howard [Middle School] on the list?” James asked.
Grossman said school buses would be used to transport people to the selected schools.
School Board member Steve Hering was also concerned because West Port High would serve all of western Marion County, including Dunnellon.
The Strategic National Stockpile of medicine is in secure locations throughout the state. It was created to be ready in case of any major emergency. The medicine is free to the public.
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