Several area hospitals Friday explored how they would deal with a large-scale flu outbreak.
The flu pandemic exercise was meant to help local hospitals develop an assessment and response to any potential break-out.
Joplin's Mercy and Freeman Hospitals conducted separate exercises and surrounding facilities participated.
"We've got all of our clinics working on it, our hospitals, we have eleven different hospitals in this scenario, eleven county health departments are working with us so it's a big community exercise", said Freeman Health and Safety Officer Skip Harper. "Every day these events could happen", he said. "Tomorrow could be a flu outbreak where there is no vaccine so we know the proper equipment to use. We know how to do isolation and quarantine routines but no matter what happens to your health care, Freeman always has to be here."
Hospital officials participating in the exercise discussed a plan for a pandemic that would put the hospitals at maximum capacity.
"People don't think things will happen to them," said Harper. "We all thought that in Joplin when the tornado hit and we were well prepared for that. We have to be prepared for any hazard that comes up. We just always have to be prepared because the hospital doesn't shut down."
Prime flu season will arrive soon in the area, and hospital officials urge individuals to take their own precautions.
Freeman recommends that everyone age six months and older get a flu vaccination.