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Colorado Springs health leaders participate in a mock bioterrorism training act

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO)- In Colorado Springs, Common Spirit Penrose, and St. Francis hospitals are working with the FBI to run a bioterrorism external disaster exercise. These exercises are meant to help keep our community alert and ready for any “real-life” emergencies. These yearly trainings are meant to help hospitals respond quickly and efficiently.

Today, the simulation was meant to help medical professionals by focusing on toxins inside the human body. 

"Our goal is to be ready, to respond appropriately, and then to have good recovery, so really testing the readiness of our team to respond to any kind of emergency that may be coming into our hospitals today is a bioterrorism situation," said Andrew Write, Vice President of Operations for Penrose and St. Francis.

Botulism is a rare toxin that can affect infants and be spread through canned and packaged foods, as well as honey, or other canned foods that are not sealed correctly. On Tuesday, mock patients were coming in after supposedly drinking milk with botulism inside it. 

"So any large-scale event like this is obviously something we want to be prepared for to handle the influx of patients because it kind of all happens at once you know it takes a few days for kind of manifest or at least a day and it can kind of progress, some people may not come in right away," said Alex Nuttall, Assistant Nurse Manager at Penrose Hospital.

During the simulation people would come in with different symptoms and the goal was for medical staff to be able and diagnose them as soon as possible. Once that diagnosis was done, they were then asked to contact the public health department- which would then coordinate with the FBI to determine if this was a naturally occurring event or if it was possibly an intentional act. 

"It is so important that we actually have created and hosted courses here in Colorado called epidemiology investigate and courses where we bring law enforcement together with epidemiologists to help identify how we identify certain types of events involving biological material," said David Autrey, Special Agent with the FBI.

The training lasted about three hours and focused on patients of all ages. Doctors here say they would like to give credit to these trainings for their quick reaction time in real-life emergencies. 

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Andrea Herrera

Andrea is an MMJ and Anchor for Telemundo Surco and KRDO NewsChannel 13. Learn more about her here.


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