Professors Trade War Stories on Emergency Preparedness

Article excerpt

In Spokane, Wash., it was a hoax anthrax letter that led to a mass vaccination drill. Hurricane Katrina brought two brave pharmacists into the 24/7 care of hundreds of sick and wounded animals and displaced people. Terrorism and natural disasters are putting pharmacists into the forefront of emergency medical care, prompting pharmacy schools to expand their curricula.

Four clinical pharmacy professors shared their personal experiences at the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) annual meeting in Orlando last month to help instructors integrate emergency preparedness in their course development.

Jeffrey Bratberg, a professor at the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy, is part of die state's Disaster Medical Assistance Team. He was sent to an area near the New Orleans Superdome, where he and his team immunized more than 1,000 people exposed to hepatitis and tetanus. They later moved to Jefferson Hospital, where, he said, "there were no phones, no computers, and lots of people wearing guns to welcome you." They worked in 100-degree heat, had no sterile water, and many of the team members became ill. "We treated people with seizure disorders, bacterial infections from the contaminated water, as well as victims of violence," he recalled.

Elaine Lust, assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Creighton University School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, was sent to Baton Rouge for three weeks as part of a federal response team. Four convicted felons helped her set up a pharmacy in a horse barn stall. For three weeks, as 16-hour days ran into each other, she slept on the floor with 300 other workers in an unsecured environment at the University of Louisiana campus. Lust was responsible for setting up the pharmacy, inventorying drugs from donated supplies, and aiding veterinarians. They treated more than 8,000 dogs, horses, cats-even snakes. She was pressed to come up with the correct medication dosages for treating all types of animals and exotic pets, such as the Burmese python. …