Pensacola, Fla. simulates bioterror attack

First responders from NAS Pensacola in Pensacola, Florida, received hands on practice this week with a simulated bioterror attack at a local post office.

Several teams from NAS Pensacola worked in tandem during the scenario, which saw a suspicious package turn up at the post office. When opened, the package expelled white powder.

"This is a chemical, biological, nuclear exercise." Scott Halford with NAS Pensacola told

Because the hazmat teams were not informed what they were dealing with, testing was required for every possible eventuality. The tests eliminated explosive and chemical substances, leaving the first responders to question if the substance was of a biological origin, such as anthrax or H1N1.

Anyone within the building's "hotzone," which consisted of a ring of 100 yards around the building, had to be decontaminated and taken to either a hospital or treated by medical personnel on site.

"It brings together several agencies on base, security, fire, safety, and environmental," Halford said. "You don't know when something like this may really happen."

The goal of the scenario, NAS Pensacola said, was to find and eliminate any problems that could slow response times or otherwise hinder first responders during an actual emergency.