Thousands to participate in emergency drill here next week
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Aug. 2, 2005 -- On Tuesday, Aug. 9, as many as 2,000 people will converge on Sulphur Springs to participate in a training program to prepare responders to support activities for public health preparedness and planning.

In a conference Tuesday morning, Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said the Texas Department of State Health Services, in conjunction with several state and federal agencies and four councils of governments, will conduct the state’s first full-scale Strategic National Stockpile exercise. It will be a simulation of a public health emergency in which an entire community will need to receive medication for a potential exposure to a harmful agent.

The exercise in Sulphur Springs will be one of seven similar exercises occurring simultaneously in the state, beginning at 8 a.m. next Tuesday morning and concluding at 3 p.m.

Local recruitment for volunteers, conducted by Ark-Tex Council of Governments, sought applications from community-based organizations and asked for a minimum of 50 volunteers from each organization. The goal was to sign up 1,000 participants.

A similar number of volunteers will participate as clinic workers for the drill.

Millsap said Tuesday he wanted the community to be aware of the large number of volunteers that will be coming into town next week. They will meet at designated drop-off points for transportation by bus to the Civic Center complex.

He said there was a potential for traffic congestion with the large number of people coming into town, and that public safety personnel would be working to minimize any traffic delays.

Although the exercise will involve emergency response workers, Millsap said the community will see no change in the levels of service available.

“I want to assure the public this exercise will not impede any emergency service that might be required during the time of the exercise,” he said. “A great deal of time and planning has gone into conducting the Strategic National Stockpile exercise, and public safety needs will continue to be addressed as a priority.”

The exercise is being coordinated through the Ark-Tex Council of Governments and as many as six counties in Northeast Texas will participate in the local program.

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