Palm Beach County looks to homeowners’ groups to assist after terror attack; Palm Beach County is among dozens of metro areas nationwide that have received federal funds to plan for a biological attack
(AP) WEST PALM BEACH, Florida: Palm Beach County emergency managers are enlisting the area’s gated retirement communities to help distribute antibiotics in case of a bioterrorism attack.
The county must coordinate a plan for the distribution of antibiotics to the region’s 1.3 million residents within 48 hours of a biological terror attack. Health officials say they are working with area homeowners’ associations to supply the drugs at their local clubhouses.
At least 30 neighborhoods have expressed interest, said Philip Levenstein, who is in charge of the effort for the Palm Beach County Health Department.
State and federal officials say the county’s plan is unique to the nation.
“This is an exciting new idea,” said Ken Sturrock of the state Department of Health. “As far as we know, they are pioneers.”
Palm Beach County is among dozens of metro areas nationwide that have received federal funds to plan for a biological attack. The program requires cities to have a broad plan to quickly distribute antibiotics.
Some cities, including Seattle, Boston and Philadelphia, have plans to distribute antibiotics by mail, with armed guards escorting postal workers. Orlando is setting up a system of drive-through distribution centers.
Sturrock said the Palm Beach County plan may sound “a little elitist,” but it will help elderly people, many of whom live in these gated communities, who have difficulty traveling.
Officials say that without the help of private neighborhoods, the county would need about 45 public distribution points. The health department would also need up to 5,400 people for the effort, but it has fewer than 1,000 employees.
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