ASU to host seminar on WMD preparedness - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

ASU to host seminar on WMD preparedness

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March 6, 2008

Albany -- It's three letters that may seem far away from Southwest Georgia - WMD - better known as weapons of mass destruction. And while the images of missiles and mushrooms clouds might come to mind, the threat can be as small as a powdery substance.

"Anytime we gain information and training in the WMD field is important to us," said AFD Training Chief Ron Rowe.

That is why GEMA, along with the Georgia Public Health Laboratory and the FBI are collaborating to provide seminar training April 8th at Albany State University for local law enforcement agencies and first responders in case "white powder" or unknown materials pose a threat.

"Being from a smaller area like Albany it's not always easy to get some of these classes because of the support for a minimum number of students..etc. We feel like this is an awesome opportunity to have this here," says Rowe, who has extensive training in emergency HAZMAT response.

Just this past July, that unit was put into action when a suspicious letter containing a powder like material temporarily shut down the C. B. King Federal Courthouse in Albany. And while that threat caused no immediate harm, preparedness in such an event is key.

Rowe said, "As you know it's been a topic since 9-11, the WMD.  White powder is the name this class is called, but it's going to cover a lot of other information."

Information such as WMD threat briefing, response and notification, "white powder" response protocols, and the importance of interagency cooperation.

"You know, we're very fortunate here in Dougherty County that all of our agencies work well together. When we respond to an incident using the system that's put forth in our county, we do really well with that," added Rowe.

And with further training, local first responders will have another tool in keeping the public safe in the event of potentially hazardous emergency.

Along with the seminar at Albany State, three separate WMD training courses are scheduled for agencies throughout the state of Georgia.

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