As I walked up to the University Commons last Thursday afternoon, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I had spontaneously volunteered myself as an “exposed contact” in the mock measles outbreak drill sponsored by Harrisonburg health officials.
As I got closer to the Commons, I felt like turning around. Up ahead, the scene looked straight out of a doomsday movie: volunteers wearing neon yellow vests and face masks, people running around carrying clipboards, and ambulances lining the parking lot. A handful of students and I gathered around a volunteer as she handed out index cards with information on them. These cards were to be our identities for the drill, and we were to answer any questions thrown at us accordingly. Excitedly, we all compared identities to see what our fate would be. According to my card, I was a 19-year-old student. I had Biology 201 in the Science Center with a student who was confirmed to have the measles. Although I was feeling “great,” my parents had pressured me to get examined.
Cards in hand, we went inside the Commons to a table of volunteers who asked us a series of questions about whether we were having any symptoms or if we had been vaccinated.
Luckily for me, my card indicated that I had never had the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella). So, I headed over to the vaccination table and without further ado, I received my shot: a bright orange sticker on my left arm to prove that I survived the measles epidemic. Though my only disappointment of the whole event was that I did not get to go into the medical tent, I was very impressed with how smoothly the simulation went. I left feeling reassured of Harrisonburg’s ability to protect its citizens in the case of a medical emergency. Like they say, “practice makes perfect,” and I am thankful to be part of a community that makes drills like this a priority.