Weapons of Mass Destruction Exercise< < Back to
The normally vacant Athens Fairground was flooded with emergency responders from Athens, Logan and Columbus last week.
They raided homes, arrested drug dealers and discovered chemical labs. Although the energy was real, the emergencies were not.
From early morning until evening, the responding officers worked to solve a mock chemical emergency scenario in a weapons of mass destruction exercise.
The Civil Support Team out of Columbus is specially trained in weapons of mass destruction and hazardous materials.
CST is dedicated to helping prepare local responders for these situations and contacted local Athens authorities in August to do the exercise.
In a real life situation involving hazardous materials, Athens responders would call the CST for their chemical expertise.
Athens Sheriff's Department Decective Brice Fick worked along his fellow officers to investigate the hazardous material and arrest the people producing the drugs.
Fick acknowledges the value of doing exercises like this.
"It's rare that we have an exercise of this size. Everything that we're doing now will be helpful for us to recognize and act on real situations in the field." Fick said.
While Fick and other local officers worked to control the situatoin, several of the CST team donned yellow, gold and blue haz-mat suits and concentrated on identifying and stablizing the hazardous materials.
The exercise at the Athens Fairground was modeled after an authentic emergency situation and designed to help officers be prepared for a variety of real life emergencies.
Athens County 911 Director, Dan Pifer, worked with a team of two other men to create the hazardous materials scenario.
The three men went to great lengths to create a realistic story with two different hazardous materials for the training exercise.
"We have fake twitter accounts, all kinds of fake flyers and information that will be there, we have actual lab set ups that will be going on there, we have live actors that are involved…We have actual fake money, about 84 thousand dollars worth of fake money, and then just fake chemicals." Pifer said.
He and the other members of his team create these elaborate training scenarios for emergency responders around the state.
Athens County Emergency Management Agency Director Fred Davis says that the increase in emergency training is in part due to the September 11 attacks.
"Mainly what we do is plan for emergencies. It's our job to help emergency responders to be ready. If we prepare for an event beforehand, we're a lot better off than if we just went into a situation as our first time." Davis said.
After months of preparing, CST and Athens officials successfully completed the weapons of mass destruction exercise.
While the exercise helped local emergency response teams to be prepared, it will ultimately benefit local residents.
"Our priority is people… it's our goal to help responders keep people safe." said Davis.