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FOR RELEASE: April 11, 2002
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Sooner Spring Bioterrorism Drill Slated this Weekend

Oklahoma's state and local public health agencies, selected hospitals, local emergency management agencies, National Guard forces and others will conduct a series of bioterrorism exercises this Friday and Saturday, April 12-13. Dubbed Sooner Spring, the drills are designed to improve the public's preparedness in the event of a bioterrorism threat.

On Friday, April 12, Gov. Frank Keating will bring together members of his administration along with local and federal officials for a tabletop exercise dealing with a mock bioterrorism attack in Tulsa. Sponsored by the Oklahoma Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, this exercise will be a sequel to "Dark Winter," the June 2001 bioterrorism drill in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, April 13, three communities: Lawton, McAlester, and Tulsa, will conduct mock outbreaks involving potentially deadly diseases. In Lawton, the agent will be botulism; in McAlester, the community will address pneumonic plague; and Tulsa will have a mock outbreak of smallpox. Local public health and health care providers, law enforcement, emergency response personnel and civic groups in all three locations have worked together to plan these events.

On Saturday in Oklahoma City, exercises will be conducted involving the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NPS) and a military support plan by the Oklahoma Army National Guard to transfer medical supplies from the NPS to Lawton and McAlester for distribution and use in those communities.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center will also conduct an exercise with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will include the assessment, physical examination and differential diagnosis of a suspect case of smallpox, with clinical specimen collection and safe transport of samples.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health will conduct a series of exercises involving public health responses to the mock outbreaks. State health officials will test disease reporting and surveillance systems and communications with local health officials using a variety of communications technologies.

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Media Notes:

  1. State Health Commissioner Dr. Leslie Beitsch will conduct a news media briefing on the exercises at 1 p.m. Saturday, in Room 307 of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, 1000 Northeast Tenth Street, Oklahoma City.
  2. The Office of Communications at the Oklahoma State Department of Health will be open during Saturday's exercises. Four media advisories will be issued throughout the day.
  3. For timelines of exercises and more information on Sooner Spring events, call the Office of Communications at 405/271-5601.

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