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Volunteers needed for pandemic drill

WORTHINGTON -- With the number of bird and human cases of avian flu on the rise -- and with the recent outbreak of mumps in Iowa -- the timing of a mock pandemic immunization drill planned next week in Nobles and Rock counties seems impeccable.

Public health, clinic and hospital personnel, along with more than 30 volunteers, will conduct a mass dispensing clinic June 15 in Worthington as part of their training for a disease pandemic. Simultaneously, an exercise will be conducted at the Luverne National Guard Armory for Rock County residents.

The task now is to find volunteers to either serve as patients or help administer the clinic at either location.

"There are a lot of positions needed to run a clinic," said Jason Kloss, Nobles-Rock Public Health sanitarian.

Kloss said there is a need for ushers, greeters and volunteers to manage the crowd. The biggest need, however, is to find volunteers to act as patients.

"We need patient volunteers for this drill, so we can simulate what a real pandemic flu clinic would look like," Kloss said. "We want to create the atmosphere to see where the slow-downs and bottlenecks occur to prevent them from happening in a real clinic."

The dispensing clinic will simulate clinic workers giving "shots" to patients, although there will be no shots given at the training and no needles.

The training is expected to serve as an educational tool for clinic workers and for volunteers alike.

Depending on the number of volunteer patients, Kloss said those who take part can go through the dispensing line once or several times. He encourages businesses to allow their employees to attend the drill and take part as patients.

"They should show up to get a feel for what a mass dispensing site would look like," Kloss said.

Volunteer patients will receive a registration form when they arrive at the school, as well as a patient card that includes a list of fictitious symptoms and patient information. Those will be used by emergency personnel in identifying those patients who can go through the express route or must be further screened.

At least 100 volunteers of all ages are needed to serve as patients for the drill. Children younger than age 15 are required to have parental supervision on site.

Volunteers may arrive at the Prairie Elementary school gymnasium between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. to act as patients for the drill, while people who are interested in helping behind the scenes should arrive at 12:30 p.m. Anyone who wants to help may register by calling Kloss at 372-8256. Pre-registration is appreciated but is not required.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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