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Nashville prepares for biological attack

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

What would you do if there was a biological attack?

It's something most don't spend a lot of time thinking about, but ever since 9/11, the government has.

On Friday media members got a rare glimpse at what the health department is doing to get ready for the unthinkable.

"We've got a lot of lawmakers here," said Rachel Majors, Emergency Response Coordinator for Metro Public Health Department. "We're a big city and things like this can happen to us."

Nashville may not top the list for potential targets in the United States, but officials aren't taking any chances.

Friday Metro Public Health held a massive city-wide drill testing its mobilization plan in the event of a biological attack. In this scenario, anthrax.

Instead of police or fire departments, health officials would take the lead.

"We need to keep our people fresh and aware that they would be responsible," said Majors.

Dozens of healthcare workers took over Antioch High School, turning the auditorium into a triage or "point of dispensing center."

About 500 others volunteered their time, including area college students playing the role of patients.

"For me, I think the biggest thing is if there's a problem or emergency in the community, just to see as a nurse what role I'm going to play if something like this was going to happen," said Brittany Cary, a nursing student at Middle Tennessee State University.

"We're here with our whole community health class and so we're here together kind of seeing what would actually be done in the community," said Jenna Dillon, a nursing student at Vanderbilt University.

In the event of a biological attack, anyone potentially exposed would go to one of 17 dispensing sites like Antioch High for medicine and information.

"They are coming here for preventive medication," said Majors. "These people are not sick. The sick people would go to the hospital."

"It's scary, but I guess it's reality to remind yourself what we live in today," said Dillon.

Anthrax has a gestation period of about four days.

Officials said if it ever became a threat the governor would declare a state of emergency, release the antiviral drug that's been stockpiled for such an emergency, and mobile treatment centers would be open within 48 hours.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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