There are close to 100,000 people in Monongalia County alone. A conference room at the Monongalia County Health Department was filled with people from the county, and counties across West Virginia, this afternoon. They were all preparing to help the community if a disaster happens.
The Monongalia County Health Department Division of Threat Preparedness hosted a "Mass Prophylaxis Preparedness and Planning Training."
This plan could go into affect for everything from a flu pandemic to a serious disaster. Point of Distribution, or PODs, are set up around the county affected. Many agencies are involved in this process, including law enforcement.
"Law enforcement has a responsibility for providing site security at the points of distribution themselves," said Ed Preston, Chief of the Morgantown Police Department. "Both security for the healthcare workers, also the participants that are receiving the medications or treatments at the sites."
The Health Department uses a table top exercise to give the agencies a chance to work out problems.
"They actually lay out a facility and they design a plan as to how to put the people," said Ted Krafczyk, the Threat Preparedness Coordinator at the Monongalia County Health Department. "We have clothes pins as people and they move those people through the facility and it's a good chance for them to actually run an exercise and see how it runs that way they can see where the pit falls might be, what did I forget to include in my facility, maybe it doesn't flow well this way. Maybe I should change the flow to go that way."
There are rules when using the designed facilities. This makes it important for the people participating in the training to pay just as close attention to what they are doing in the set up as they would in a real situation.
"Probably the most important thing for the public to understand is that your health care, your public safety, your emergency management, are always working together in concert to create a viable plan to provide for the local health and security of their communities," said Preston.
Preston added that he's used this type of training in real life situations like hurricanes and other natural disasters at previous jobs.