Nevada first responders trained in chemical weapons response

In Elko, Nevada, first responders from federal, state, county and local agencies recently participated in a chemical weapons exercise that tested their training in a variety of real-life scenarios.

At 6 a.m., Nevada Highway Patrol troopers arrived at an accident scene where a victim was pinned under a vehicle. They discovered bystanders there who displayed symptoms of having been exposed to a chemical agent, according

The troopers found a broken chemical container at the scene, along with evidence that there was more to the situation than initially expected. Notes and a map found in the wrecked vehicle led the troopers to a recently closed city-owned building that contained a simulated explosive device.

Nevada Highway Patrol Trooper Jim Stewart said that the training was beneficial for members of his department since they were rarely called to participate in city-based operations that did not include traffic control, reports.

Members of the Newmont Mine Rescue Team were then called to the building. They donned Hazmat suits and cautiously entered the building, where they planned to analyze and neutralize any chemicals or explosives they found.

In addition, the Elko County Sheriff's Office, the Elko Bomb Squad, Elko County ambulance crews and the Elko Fire Department were all on hand to offer support if needed.

Major David Sellen of the National Guard's 92nd Civil Support Team called the scenario realistic and not based on any kind of James Bond-type fantasy. Sellen recalled assisting first responders in Las Vegas during a 2008 ricin scare.

The Civil Support Team is tasked with identifying agents during chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents, according to They can also provide local agencies with access to high-tech communications and analytical equipment.

Sellen said the abandoned building was a suitable location to hold the exercise.

"It's the shack in the middle of nowhere, the trailer and even the hotel room," Sellen said, reports. "If a couple people have thought of it, then chances are even more people have thought of it, and then there's the chance that at least one person is going to make it happen."