Iowa postal employees practice anthrax response

Postal employees, first responders and local emergency officials in Waterloo, Iowa, recently conducted a biological attack drill that simulated an anthrax mail attack similar to the ones carried out in 2001.

During the scenario, authorities sealed off the post office and a group of student volunteers simulated potential anthrax victims. The exercise provided officials with new insights as to how to operate during an emergency, as well as new tools to use during a response, according to

"It's as real as we can make it and still get it done," Sgt. Aaron McClelland of the Waterloo Police Department said, reports.

Though a real event would be most likely to unfold over a series of days, the recent exercise was compressed into a matter of hours.

Firefighters donned hazmat suits in order to rescue those inside the post office while members of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service began a more thorough investigation. Officials from the Iowa State Patrol, Black Hawk County Health Department and the Iowa National Guard also took part.

"There was a number of different agencies involved. We had federal, state and county and city resources," Jewell said, according to

The National Guard provided a unique communications system for the event that tied together the radios from the different participants.