More than a dozen NYC agencies are participating this morning in what the Health Department calls "the largest no-notice emergency response exercise in New York City history." The drill will "test our ability to respond to the release of a biological agent." In other words, this is what we're in for the next time the white flag is a bomb.

The biological agent the various agencies will be preparing for is anthrax. According to the Daily News, "Preparing for the possibility of a biological attack, the workers — aware they’re participating in a drill — will respond to calls starting at 5:30 a.m. and scramble to set up 30 sites around the five boroughs, handing out drugs to combat the deadly agent...Fake doses of antibiotics cipro and doxycycline will be rushed in under NYPD escort from warehouses at secret locations in the region. Officials will set up distribution points at 30 different spots, mostly public school buildings, staffed by multi-lingual workers who will urge visitors to pick up free medications for themselves and at least five other people."

It's called a RAMPEx Exercise; the Health Department explains (PDF), "RAMPEx stands for Rapid Activation for Mass Prophylaxis Exercise. It is a large-scale exercise organized by the New York City Health Department, with support from other City agencies, to prepare for emergencies." Also, keep in mind: "There is no emergency now."

First deputy health commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot told the News, "We’re exercising a worst-case scenario. Whether it’s a released biological agent or whether it’s a naturally occurring disease epidemic, we want to make sure every New Yorker has access to life-saving medications."