Fla. National Guard runs bioterror simulation

The Florida National Guard's 48th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team was evaluated on Thursday, December 16, in a simulation of a domestic security exercise involving chemical, biological, radiological and weapons of mass destruction attacks.

The team members were equipped with orange HAZMAT suits as they began their exercise, which was lead by the U.S. Northern Command at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Brooksville, Florida, Hernando Today reports.

"Unfortunately, the environment we have to deal with today has the threat from al-Qaida and different terrorist organizations that are always looking for a way to hurt Americans, " Lt. Col. Joe DeFee, commander of the Clearwater, Florida based team, said, according to Hernando Today. "This is a response to that."

The team, which was formed in 2009, consists of 22 members certified by the Army, Air Guard or National Guard as hazardous materials technicians. The certification takes over 600 hours of training over the course of two years. CSTs are deployed to help first responders and the federal government to identify WMDs and to keep citizens safe. These teams must pass an exercise-based assessment every 18 months.

"(These teams are) important so that the public is assured of having a rapidly deployable military united to assess and assist civil authorities in the even of a terrorist, chemical, biological or radiological attack," Ronald Jones, the director of Civil Support Readiness Group-East, said, according to Hernando Today.