Utica, NY (WIBX) - In the event of a viral outbreak, Utica's Saint Elizabeth Medical Center says they will be prepared.

Nursing students and staff held a Point of Dispensing drill at its College of Nursing, where they vaccinated employees, volunteers and first responders against the flu.

Heidi Coluzza, Director of Infection Prevention, says the state mandated drills give students and staff an appropriate venue in which to prepare for an outbreak.

"Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, bio-terrorism... there's a potential for that," Coluzza said. "We all have to come together as a team, and as healthcare professionals, to work and to provide the best care we can to as many people as possible in an event such as that."

Michael Paul, a senior nursing major at the Saint Elizabeth College of Nursing, agrees. He says the drill provides lessons in infection control and proper care techniques.

"Whether it's communication from the public health services to [patients], or from first responders or hospital staff and healthcare people, just getting that information and knowing where to get it," Paul said. "TVs and radios, that sort of thing."

This type of exercise prepares healthcare workers for the outbreak of new viruses, in which few people may have immunity.

The Medical Center's Pandemic Plan uses information provided from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state's Health Department.

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