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UW Students, Employees Can Participate in ‘Cowboy Ready’ in Emergency Drill Nov. 16

November 11, 2011

University of Wyoming students and employees have an opportunity to be involved in testing local emergency response plans specific to a public health emergency.

The drill, "Cowboy Ready," will take place Wednesday, Nov. 16, between 2:30-4:30 p.m. at UW's War Memorial Fieldhouse.

Several hundred students, faculty and staff members are needed for Cowboy Ready. The drill is to determine the usability of the fieldhouse for a public health emergency response effort. The first 300 participants will receive T-shirts and refreshments will be available.

The university and Albany County Public Health have identified War Memorial Fieldhouse as the preferred site to distribute emergency countermeasures in the event of a public health emergency. The Nov. 16 "point of dispensing" drill will test the efficiency of Albany County Public Health and the university in administering medication to the campus community in the event of an actual catastrophe.

The simulated scenario is to provide medical mass countermeasures (medications) following a release of anthrax. The outcome of the drill will help health officials and UW test, improve and communicate their plans before a disaster happens.

"This Cowboy Ready exercise is a great opportunity for the university, in conjunction with Public Health, to practice existing plans that are designed to protect the campus community in the event of a public health emergency," says Nancy Fox, director of UW's Environmental Health and Safety Department (EHS).

Volunteers are needed at War Memorial Fieldhouse from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Nov. 16. Volunteers are asked to follow signs and enter the building through the south entrance. Volunteers should expect their time commitment to not exceed 30 minutes. Volunteers will be asked to complete a screening form and then receive their emergency course of "medications," which for Wednesday's drill will instead be free T-shirts for the first 300 volunteers. Other incentive gifts will be available for those who report to the drill after the first 300 volunteers.

Many campus entities have been involved in organizing the exercise, including Athletics, Student Health, the School of Pharmacy, the Dean of Students Office, Associated Students of UW, Institutional Communications and the Division of Administration and EHS. This exercise also provides the School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing students and faculty the opportunity to practice career-related emergency response duties.

"The nature of a POD (Point of Dispensing) is a universal concept: All states respond to public health emergency situations that require the operation of a POD in the same way," says Beth Young of Albany County Public Health. "Volunteers who come to this drill will be able to gain information about public health emergencies and PODs, all while helping UW and public health officials create better response plans. Albany County Public Health is sincerely appreciative of UW for hosting such a robust and realistic exercise."

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