Health leaders test Honolulu's readiness to bioterrorism attack

Melinda Logalog
Melinda Logalog
Wes McDermott
Wes McDermott

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

MANOA (KHNL) - More than 300 volunteers take part in a large-scale exercise to test, how ready Honolulu is, for a bioterrorism attack.

The Department of Health's goal is to improve Hawaii's emergency plans. In this exercise, health leaders simulated an anthrax attack. It's part of a federal effort to increase bioterrorism preparedness in the nation's larger cities.

Melinda Logalog is one of about 350 volunteers to help test Honolulu's ability to respond to a bio-terrorism attack. In this case, an anthrax attack.

"It was nothing to it, just standing in line and listening to the instructions and it's just a good cause to volunteer," Logalog said.

Logalog and her friend volunteer together often. So often, that they call these get-togethers, dates.

"Ok, when's our next volunteer date?" she asked her friend.

But whatever you call it, Department of Health leaders say these types of events shouldn't be taken lightly.

"It is important that we do this type of exercise on a regular basis, not only to improve our process but it also gives us a chance to train health department staff and how to operate these sites," The Department of Health's Bioterrorism and Preparedness chief Wes McDermott said.

This federally funded exercise provides help to 72 of the most populous cities in the U.S. under the Cities Readiness Initiative.

Honolulu is included in the cities readiness initiative. That's where within 48 hours of a bio-terrorism attack, its entire population gets medication.

Hundreds lined up to get that medicine. Not only for them, but for their families as well.

"Everybody should take part of it because if we don't know what's going on, everybody becomes crazy, having something like this is beneficial to everybody," Logalog said.