January 25, 2002

Committee tests bioterrorism response plan

Featured Image

Dr. John Tarpley talks with medical students and residents each day after rounds. Tarpley received his M.D. degree from Vanderbilt.

Committee tests bioterrorism response plan

An “orange alert for bioterrorism” went out over the Medical Center’s public address system Jan. 22, warning patients and staff of a possible biological event.

The drill was part of the hospital’s disaster plan—responding to disasters involving biological agents.

In the largest drill ever held by the Medical Center, more than 150 participants went through the motions of treating a community-wide exposure to anthrax. The Emergency Operations Center was activated, where command staff directed the functions of faculty and staff as patients began arriving for treatment.

The bioterrorism plan calls for the use of the Page-Campbell Heart Institute to treat stable patients, advise patients on the treatment of anthrax and provide for a three-day supply of antibiotics to combat the exposure. Unstable patients will be directed to the Emergency Department.

The drill was the result of many months of planning and preparation from several joint committees that were directed to develop action plans to address biological, chemical and nuclear terrorist attacks. The VUMC disaster committee worked in concert with a terrorism task force, a sub-committee of that task force and a steering committee comprised of VUMC leaders. The plan will now undergo modifications and be sent to the task force and steering committee for further input before final approval and implementation.