Yuma air station tests CBRN preparedness

Air station personnel at a Yuma air station have finished a joint training exercise with local emergency response services to assess their ability to respond to biological, chemical and nuclear attacks while coordinating their responsibilities.

Ten non-military government agencies took part in the exercise, including the Yuma police and fire departments, the Arizona depart of transportation and the FBI's joint terrorism task force. Additionally, 13 station commands took part in the simulated attack.

The operation, dubbed Full-Scale Exercise Operation Desert Eagle 2010, took place on Feb. 3 and featured a simulated chlorine leak that originated at a faulty railroad car. In large amounts, chlorine is fatal to humans.

"This potentially could be a very dangerous situation," Robert Bavier, a Union Pacific Railroad hazardous materials response officer, told Yuma.USMC.mil. "Chlorine, because of its density as a vapor, will stay very concentrated over a large area and it also stays at ground level, which is obviously not what you want in a populated area."

Emergency responders were given an opportunity to test their response treatment skills in a CBRN emergency by role-players demonstrating symptoms of the leak.

The exercise lasted for more than four hours, with participants' performances evaluated in an after-action review throughout the operation.

"This is a terrific opportunity for networking between the agencies," Sgt. Clint Norred, the Yuma Police Department public information officer, said. "It's very helpful to know a familiar face and point of contact when it does happen for real."