Bioterrorism simulation exercise in California successful

A multilateral emergency response test recently measured the ability of multiple emergency response organizations across California to work together to respond to chemical and bioterrorism threats.

The simulation exercise was organized by the 95th Civil Support Team in Hayward. The exercise, which included a scenario in which a biotechnology company employee sets off a chemical explosion, included participation from Genentech's First Alert Team, the Belmont Fire Department, South San Francisco Fire Department, San Mateo County Hazmat Team and San Mateo County Office of Emergency Services emergency response teams.

The scenario took place on January 22 and is one of several annual exercises. This scenario was unique, however, as it was the first one to include Genentech's First Alert Team, a private company.

"The unique opportunity for this training was that we were able to use public, private and National Guard assets, and in the scenario the private asset was very capable with a hazmat response," Exercise Coordinator Sgt. 1st Class Garrick Whitley said. "Most companies don't have a hazmat team to respond to incidents like this."

The scenario required the collaboration of each organization to supply different equipment and capabilities, such as a decontamination truck, medical response vehicles, mobile science lab and hazmat soldiers. Each organization brought their strengths to the simulation exercise and it was deemed an overall success.

"It was a very successful mission," 95th CST Deputy Commander Maj. Christopher Angle said. "We established a unified command. There was a joint interagency effort for the objective, combined entries, combined mission tracking. We attacked the incident commander's objectives concurrently."