Weapons of Mass Destruction Drill at PSU a Success

April 12th, 2007 by Adam

A weapon of mass destruction in Holderness, N.H.? As unlikely as that scenario may seem, dozens of local and regional fire, police and emergency management officials descended on River Street early in the morning of April 11 for a drill aimed at preparing for a bioterrorism event.

“We have to be prepared for any kind of emergency,” said Lt. Steve Vachon of the Plymouth Fire Department. “Every unit has their role, from the local firefighters to the military personnel actually handling the material. The drill allows us to practice our roles in this kind of scenario, so if it ever happens, we’re familiar with what needs to be done.”

The exercise unfolded like this: a PSU maintenance worker discovered a makeshift lab with different chemicals in a building near the PE Center. University officials were notified, who, in turn, called local fire departments. Once local firefighters established that it was a possible bioterrorist lab, they requested the Central New Hampshire Hazardous Materials
Team, who notified the New Hampshire National Guard’s 12th Civil Support Team, a unit specially equipped and trained to deal with a variety of bioterrorism threats. The CST suited up in biohazard protection suits, examined and identified the material, isolated it and then removed it from the scene. The team was then decontaminated. The seven hour drill was evaluated and graded so the participants can identify potential problem areas and resolve them before they respond to an actual event.

“The students, faculty and staff of Plymouth State University and the residents of this region should rest easier knowing that we have dedicated and well trained emergency personnel to deal with any emergency, both small and large scale,”said Tammy J. Hill, PSU’s Environmental Health and Safety Coordinator. “The drill gave all of the participating agencies, including PSU, the opportunity to work together and learn from each other. For that reason alone, I would consider this drill a true success.”

For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., 535-2775 or blyndes@plymouth.edu