South Georgia prepares for public health emergency

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 15, 2019

LANIER COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Lanier County emergency officials prepared Friday for a day they hope never comes.

Communities often prepare for emergencies in regard to severe weather, like hurricanes or tornadoes. On Friday, the Georgia Department of Public Health hosted a preparedness drill for a public health crisis.

Emergency personnel often say, you can never be too prepared, and you may not be able to prepare for everything, but Lanier County Emergency Management Agency is trying.

During the Friday drill, personnel responded to an anthrax outbreak in Lanier County, testing an open point location.

"Basically a sight the community comes to receive mass medication dispensing in the event of a public health emergency," said Lauren Bewley, Emergency Preparedness Director with DPH South Health District.

The drill allowed local emergency and health officials could learn what works, and what doesn't.

"We need to be assured that we can take care of Lanier County," said Randy Patten with the Lanier County Emergency Management Agency. "As emergency manger you never feel comfortable, you always have that little gut feeling. But it's better to know that this was an extra exercise. We can practice this exercise, we can tweak and work and make it better."

On Friday DPH tested a new location, the Lanier County Elementary School. Volunteers stepped up, driving cars through the location to help emergency officials take on the new challenge.

"It really makes you feel blessed to live in a small community, where everybody is able to come out and help and get involved," Patten said. "If it was to happen tomorrow with this group of people, I think we could cover it."

The Department of Public Health plans to host these exercises in every county across the state.

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