Alabama police train for disasters at CDP

Police officers from Anniston, Alabama, learned how to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives-related disasters this week during a five-day training course at the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Eight Anniston police officers joined with other public safety workers as part of a five-day training course that began on Monday at the Anniston-based CDP. While the training is free for law enforcement officials, the CDP said it has been tough to enlist the participation of local agencies, the Anniston Star reports.

"The problem is small towns have a hard time releasing a good part of their staff to come to class," Lisa Hunter, the external affairs director for the CDP, said, according to the Anniston Star. "Say a fire department has 10 people on staff. Releasing two of them for training takes 20 percent of your resources away. That's the hard part for them."

While Anniston has yet to experience a chemical attack or accident, Lt. Nicholas Bowles, the officer in charge of training and inspections for the local police, said the course is helpful for first responders, the Anniston Star reports.

"We don't know what's on the highways in these trucks going up and down 431 and 21," Bowles said, according to the Anniston Star. "We don't know what's in these train cars on the railways. If an incident happens, the fire department and the police department are going to be the first two on the scene, and these guys need the training to be able to respond immediately."

After four days of training, the first responders were tested on Friday on what they learned by being exposed to chemical agents at the CDP's Chemical, Ordnance, Biological and Radiological Training Facility.

"They're not going to be contaminated, they're just going to be exposed," Stan Jones, an instructor on weapons of mass destruction at the CDP, said, the Anniston Star reports. "It's the only place in the country they can be exposed to something like that."

The Center for Domestic Preparedness is a facility run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to train first responders for all-hazards events.