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Bio-war exercise tested emergency response. (Security Beat).

A recent regional exercise served as a national test bed for bio-terrorism response for states and counties. The McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, about 90 miles south of Tulsa, Okla., was a participant in a community-wide exercise that simulated a plague attack, followed immediately by the appropriate response, said the plant's commander, Army Col. Jyuji Hewitt. The McAlester plant, a Tier I depot, is the prime producer of bombs for the Navy and the Air Force.

The exercise began with a small airplane spraying a liquid, simulating a toxin that would cause plague, over an area that encompassed three counties. Then, first responders worked together to call upon a national stockpile of medications to treat themselves and the rest of the community. More than 13,000 participants, private citizens, lined up to receive the cocktail of antibiotics, which, for the purpose of the exercise, was a small bag of jellybeans.

Hewitt said he wanted his Army civilian employees involved in this exercise, because "It is a readiness issue. We need to know how to go out and distribute antibiotics to our first responders and our work force. ... Most of the employees at the plant are Army civilians, who live in those counties," where the toxin was sprayed, he said.

The exercise included participants and observers from the governor's office, White House Office of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Health and Human Services, Joint Civil Support Team, Department of Justice and Center for Disease Control.

"What this did for us was to help in developing the relationships that we need to have with local agencies. Local agency coordination is very important in a bio-terrorism response, and with that, we are the better for it, should anything happen in the future," he said.
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Author:Book, Elizabeth G.
Publication:National Defense
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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