Flu pandemic drill held at DeSoto Civic Center

Whether it's a mass flu epidemic, a hurricane, or other disaster, Mississippi is preparing for the worst.  Wednesday, health officials held disaster drills across the state, including a drill in Southaven.

Putting Wednesday's drill into action at the DeSoto Civic Center was a massive undertaking.  Hundreds of medical personnel, as well as volunteers, simulated the need for a mass distribution of vaccines.

In the drill, the focus was on getting vaccines, which are spread around the country as part of the Strategic National Stockpile, to DeSoto County, and getting them to those in need as fast as possible.

"We're going to help take care of you," said Dr. Robert Trotter of the Mississippi Department of Health. "We've got the answers to your questions. We'll provide you information, medications and so forth."

Those acting as patients followed lines on the floor to specific stations where they could be assessed, and then given the proper mock vaccine.  Signs were in Mississippi's three most used languages: English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

Mississippi is the only state to ever request medical supplies from the National Strategic Stockpile, after Hurricane Katrina.  In fact, similar drills were held in 2005 just before Katrina hit.
Organizers put what they learned to practical use when the call for help came in.

"Our seriousness then is one of the reasons why our effectiveness in Katrina was so remarkably good," Trotter said.
Trotter said the state will continue to hold similar drills, in case the call for help comes again.