North Dakota officials take part in CBRN training

Area officials in Dickinson, North Dakota took part in a Department of Homeland Security Weapons of Mass Destruction Awareness Level Training this week to identify potential targets for biological, chemical, radiologic or nuclear attacks.

The event, held at St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center, cited such potential targets in the area as crops, livestock, oil pipelines and railway systems. The area, participants were told, has a "huge critical infrastructure," The Dickinson Press reports.

“We may have in our mind we can’t have terrorists in North Dakota, how could this possibly be?” Sherry Adams, the Southwestern District Health Unit administrator and instructor for the course, told The Dickinson Press. “However, we border Canada, we have the interstate. Terrorists may come through our state and what they’re doing may break down.” 

“The biggest thing that a terrorist thinks is to create fear and cause problems with critical infrastructure,” Adams said. “If they can get mass casualties with it, all the better.”

Adams also warned that many terrorists act as so-called "lone cells."

“What I mean by that is that all those terrorists that were involved on 9/11 had no idea what the other one was being planned to do, that way if one of them was exposed, the other three or four weren’t going to be an issue,” Adams said.

The event covered biological hazards, including small pox and plagues, and chemical agents, including hydrogen cyanide and anhydrous ammonia, along with methods of entry and signs and symptoms.

Approximately 40 emergency, hospital, county and mental health officials attending the training session, which takes place about two times a year and offers participants a lifetime certification for awareness level.