S.C. simulates biological attacks

South Carolina's Horry County has announced a four day public safety exercise that will focus on handling large-scale biological and chemical weapons attacks.

The exercise, which began on Monday, utilizes the military as well as nearly 40 agencies on the local, state and federal level.

Operation Going Coastal, as the exercise is known, began near the former air force base by The Market Common. Operation Going Coastal's focus is on handling bioterror related incidents involving both bioweapons and labs.

"We jointly work on an incident like this where it's seamless where if there were a bigger event in Myrtle Beach where all of these agencies come together," Commander Raymond Strawbridge, Weapons Team, told CarolinaLive.com. "It can happen a lot more efficiently because we all know each other, we've trained together, we know each others tactics, techniques, procedures."

SWAT teams practiced rescuing hostages in Monday's scenario, which involved explosives. New scenarios will be created each day at different Myrtle Beach locations.

Horry County, with a population of 226,992 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, is a major tourist destination. Its largest city is Myrtle Beach. There are five airports in the county and numerous major highways, all of which could be used to carry bioweapons or infections from the county.