Emergency responders simulate protocol for infectious diseases

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COLE COUNTY - Emergency responders traded in their normal work attire for Hazmat suits Wednesday for a drill in Cole County.

The county health department put on a simulation to train and prepare emergency personnel for an outbreak of Ebola or other highly infectious diseases.

"It could be anything from Smallpox, Ebola, Anthrax, anything that needs to be contained in an isolation area," said JoAnn Cantriel, education manger at Capital Region Medical Center.

This is the first time Cole County emergency responders simulated getting a call from a highly infectious patient and transporting them from the patient's home to the hospital.

The exercise aimed to test operating procedures and policies including procedures for capturing critical information, implementing the notification process, interagency response protocols, first responder and medical safety procedures and patient transfer and care.

"We've been working with the CDC guidelines for the past three months, setting up our donning and doffing, preparing for the receipt of a patient with a infectious disease and our assessment skills to weed out those patients who do not have Ebola," Cantriel said.

A fake Ebola scare hit Jefferson City in October and health officials said it was a learning curve.

"Since then we have developed our plans and our processes and this was just to enforce that our plans and our processes work, that's what today was," said Mike Rackers, chief of the Cole County Emergency Response Team.

Rackers said it was a good training exercise due to the strong partnership in Cole County.

"We work with city fire, we work with the EMS people, and we work with the hospitals," he said.