Mock disaster drill scheduled for today

January 16, 2013

Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

What if terrorists were preparing a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) right here in Scioto County?

Kim Carver, Director of the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency says that is the mock disaster scenario that will be drilled today in Portsmouth when members of the Ohio Army National Guard (OANG), 52nd Civil Support Unit conducts an exercise with Portsmouth first response agencies.

Carver said each year the state conducts drills with local police and fire agencies to make local government aware of the expertise they can bring to a situation in which chemical, biological or radiological agents are being produced or used for terrorist activities. She said the WMD team of the Guard has unique capabilities and is a vital resource to local government in the event a potential clandestine laboratory is uncovered that may be producing materials for use against the public, or, in the event such an agent is used in a public venue.

Carver said the drill today will see a command post established by the Portsmouth Fire Department after police discover an operation that requires state resources to investigate.

“What makes this an important drill, is that it involves the people we would call in an instance in which this would occur,” Carver said. “The exercise will be conducted at the former Naval Reserve building on Charles Street, and should the general public see a greater fire and police presence, it is only a drill.”

Carver said the city command post will work directly with hazardous material specialists from the Guard WMD Unit in identification of agents that terrorists might use, and in mitigating the danger of the lab through decontamination. Additionally, law enforcement will work through investigation measures that would be taken among local, state and federal authorities if the scenario were real.

Carver said the Emergency Operations Center for the county will be activated in support of the securing of the state resources and in providing emergency public information and population protection measures. Those measures are directed by the city command post based on recommendations from the Guard Hazardous Material Team.

“Each year Scioto County EMA exercises terrorism based scenario to keep area law enforcement, fire and EMS engaged in working through the possibility that such a chemical, biological or radiological agent could be released in Scioto County,” Carver said. “Today, citizens should be encouraged that emergency officials are working on preparedness for such an event and not become alarmed if they hear radio traffic or see emergency vehicles involved in the drill.”

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com