Utah first responders train in bioterror simulation

First responders in St. George, Utah, prepared for biological terrorist attacks and other emergencies on Wednesday in a training exercise conducted by the National Guard 8th Civil Support Unit out of Colorado.

As part of the simulation, firefighters and other first responders searched Dixie State University for a bio-chemical weapon. Responders from multiple states attended the training to learn specialized skills, fox13now.com reports.

The 8th Civil Support Unit specializes in countering chemical attacks and conducts training exercises in Nevada, Utah and Idaho. Lt. Col. Kevin Black, the unit's commander, said the exercises are vital for when an actual disaster occurs.

"Putting the suit on, we do that every day," Black said, according to fox13now.com. "But face-to-face working with the partner you're going to support: That's critical, and doing that as many times as you can do that, there's no substitute for that, that's the most important thing we do in training."

During the scenario, first responders went into the tunnels beneath the university searching for a realistic replica of a terrorist weapon. Jason Whipple, the St. George fire captain, said the skills learned for the training sessions translate into everyday operations.

"We train a lot of men on incident command, operations, those kinds of things," Whipple said, according to fox13now.com. "It is good for us that way, we use that same system when we have structure fires or any other kind of incident that we go on."

Whipple said the training was a good use of federal and local resources.

The exercises, which used different locations throughout St. George, concluded on Friday, fox13now.com reports.