Wyoming ANG, Cheyenne work together, train together to practice response to weapons of mass destruction attack
By by Airman 1st Class Alex Martinez , 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 19, 2010
FE WARREN AFB, Wyo. -- It was a tense situation. A cluster of emergency response vehicles gathered at one of the Wyoming National Guard Base's runways. From a distance, the heat waves radiating from the scorching cement runway made the site look like an oasis; an oasis of disaster.
Actually, it was a simulated disaster, but the response teams remained stern and determined to respond as if it was real.
The reason for the response was a joint military and civilian weapons of mass destruction training event Aug. 1.
"The objective is to demonstrate the ability for military, city, county and state assets to work together in the event of a suspected weapons of mass destruction incident," said Army Col. Luke Reiner, Wyoming National Guard joint operations officer.
On what seemed like the hottest day of the year here, emergency responders had no problem outfitting themselves with all their gear in order to respond to the simulated incident. Some agencies that were present were the Wyoming ANG emergency responders, Cheyenne Fire and Rescue team, Cheyenne Police Department, the 84th Civil Support Team who specialize in weapons of mass destruction, and the Laramie Civil Air Patrol emergency responders.
"Coordinating an exercise like this is a unique challenge," Colonel Reiner said.
He said the preparation for the exercise has taken about six months and included a table-top exercise to give participants an outline of what was to take place.
One scenario during the exercise was a response to a suspicious vehicle that was rumored to have a mysterious liquid in it.
The 84th CST, dressed fully in biohazard suits, had to respond to the site and sweep the surrounding area to ensure there were no hazardous agents. Other agencies had to set up decontamination stations for any responders who entered the potentially dangerous area.
Colonel Reiner said it's important to have exercises like this because "it's important to train how we would actually respond."
"It's the military's pleasure to be here and train with our community," Colonel Reiner said.
Both military and civilian, the local responders are ready for a disaster, if ever one happens, and can attribute their response success to exercises like this.