State agencies brace for hurricane and disaster response

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Even though it was just a drill, state agencies like the Florida Department of Health prepared for a real-life disaster Wednesday.

In the exercise, a landfalling hurricane in Tampa sent a flood of evacuees into our area.

While they were here, the evacuees came down with a contagious food-borne illness, which overwhelmed area hospitals.

First responders sent overflow patients to the Central Panhandle Fairgrounds for medical treatment.

"If there's a disaster and their hospital is destroyed like Waveland, Mississippi, in Katrina... they lost their hospital so we set up in their parking lot and all the patients came to us. We treated and sent them to appropriate facilities from there," Jay Brosnan, the Deputy Commander for the State Medical Response Team, said.

The state medical response team says after exercises like this, they always learn from their mistakes. They make changes to their operation plan as they see fit.

Bay County Fire Rescue, EMS, the Bay County Sheriff's Office, and Tyndall Air Force Base were all part of the exercise.