PENDLETON — Ansley Russell, 18, stood in the auditorium at Pendleton Heights High School, waiting anxiously to receive her preventative medication for anthrax.

She was one of hundreds of students who participated in an emergency simulation at the school on Friday morning.

The scenario: The anthrax bacteria is released at a political rally on Wednesday at the Wigwam in Anderson. Two days later, Madison County Emergency Management is providing preventative treatment to anybody who was at the rally.

“In the real world, these scenarios are going to occur (in an instance), but by doing these simulations, we’re getting the practice so we can do them,” Pendleton Police Chief Marc Farrer said.

In the gymnasium, hundreds of students were pushed through a registration station, a screening station and a distribution site. The goal for the scenario was to distribute 500 preventative drugs in a one-hour period of time, said Kellie Kelley, who played a public information officer from the Madison County Health Department.

Each students was given a character to play during the simulation. Some played reporters, and others, like Russell, played victims.

It was not the first time Michelle Dougherty, 18, had participated in a mock disaster.

“Last year, we did this thing for prom,” she said, referring to a simulation of a drunk-driving accident. “I was LifeLined. Our car was hit by a drunk driver, and I died at the hospital.”

For students, the drunk-driving simulation seemed more real than the anthrax hazard recreated on Friday.

“Basically, we feel like we’re just causing chaos (now),” Dougherty said. “This one is more fun.”

Instructing officers and emergency management personnel was the larger task at hand on Friday. But the students were learning something too, Farrer said.

“I would hope they are learning and understanding what the police and emergency management have to do,” he said.

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