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City of Shawnee prepares for public health emergency with exercises

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SHAWNEE, Kan. -- In the event of a real emergency -- such as a terrorist attack or pandemic -- Johnson County's emergency management department says it's ready.

You can never be too prepared for an emergency. That's why the city of Shawnee tested the city's readiness in case of a public health emergency on Tuesday.

"You can never hold enough drills, enough exercises," said Terry Kegin, the Emergency Management Coordinator for the city of Shawnee.

"This is not a pod for sick people, but it's a pod for well people, to give them the medication they need to keep them from getting sick," said Kegin.

Today the city of Shawnee and Johnson County Department of Health practiced a city-wide plan for antibiotic dispensing in the rare event of an infectious disease emergency.

"There's a plan in place if something is to ever happen such as a pandemic or some type of terrorist attack," said Kegin.

Lougene Marsh, the Director of Johnson County Health and Environment, said Tuesday's exercises are testing their capacity to perform in case of an emergency.

"You always find places where you can improve," Marsh said.

While this exercise simulated an anthrax attack, the infectious disease many people are concerned about now is Ebola.

"There have been no Ebola cases contracted in the United States," adds Marsh.

Marsh says there's really no reason to be concerned about Ebola here, because the Centers for Disease Control are using appropriate safeguards to prevent the spread from people coming into this country.

"Ebola is not transmitted through the air, it's not transmitted through water, and it's not transmitted through food. the only way to contract Ebola is actually having contact with bodily fluids from an ill individual," Marsh said.

Both Marsh and Kegin agree that practice is important for the city.

"You're going to act and react the way you have exercised," Kegin said.

So everyone will know exactly what to do in the case of a real emergency.

"Keep the people who are not exhibiting any symptoms from getting sick, and if we keep those people healthy, especially here within the city, such as city employees, then they can go to work, do their job, and keep taking care of the population in general," added Kegin.

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