First responders train for chemical warfare - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

First responders train for chemical warfare

By Jim Wallace - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) -  Whether it's severe weather of the threat of violence, our emergency workers train year round on how to respond.

At a drill at MCLB Albany, first responders trained on chemical warfare, training they hope they'll never have to use.

Marine Base Police wear chemical suits and air masks as they shut down Albany's base. Georgia State Patrol troopers and ambulances start to deploy. The exercise, at a fourth of July celebration with hundreds of South Georgians at the base, are hit by chemicals and gas.

"A crop duster, which is not unusual around the area. A farming area to see crop dusters out, apparently came across this ground and sprayed a chemical agent on the ground," Dougherty County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Jim Vaught said.

Was it an accident or a terrorism attack? Marine Corps officials say they wanted this drill to be as big as possible.

 "We practice doing the hard stuff. Then we'll be prepared for the future, as far as getting all these causalities triaged," said MCLB Public Affairs Officer Lt. Kyle Thomas.

Troopers escort vans full of people to the emergency rooms, where hospital officials are also working on their role in this disaster. It's a time for base officials and community first responders to learn how to work together.

"It's not the time to meet and make friends during an emergency. You want to meet and make friends before an emergency, so that you work well together," Vaught said.

"You have to be prepared for anything. And when it comes to the Marine Corps we will never accept that we are at one hundred percent. We'll always work to improve ourselves," Lt. Thomas said

Most people would say something like this could never really happen in Albany, but base and community first responders can't think that way. They practice, to be ready to work together if needed.

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved.  

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