National Capital Region prepares for emergency exercise
March 23, 2012
By Tina Vilca
A little over a decade after 9/11, Americans around the nation's capital and surrounding areas still think of the horrific moments of that day. The twin towers in New York were left in ruins, while the Pentagon in Arlington, the hub of our military forces, was crippled.
There have been numerous attempts made on Americans' lives each day, and with threats of biochemical warfare or bombings in populated environments, complacency is a luxury we cannot afford.
To keep military members and their Families safe and prepared for acts of violence, the Department of Homeland Security, through the Cities Readiness Initiative, will be conducting a Closed Point of Dispensing Standard Operating exercise March 28 around the D.C. metropolitan area. Wednesday's test may possibly affect those living and working on the Fort McNair portion of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
The exercise is used to plan and prepare for defenses against a biological attack over a widespread area. The exercise will take 36 hours to complete.
"Under the new Centers for Disease Control guidelines, a regional mass dispensing exercise must be completed every five years. Although the National Capital jurisdictions have done regional exercises previously, this is the first time the 'Extended NCR' has conducted mass dispensing operations on this scale simultaneously," said Wesley McDermott, CDC strategic national stockpile advisor, with the D.C. Department of Health.
By creating this scene, it prepares emergency responders to act in a fast manner in a real-life situation. Extended efforts in planning the exercise began shortly after an incident in Tokyo, Japan. Ricin, a poison in the form of powder or a pellet, was dispensed in the subway in 1995. Shortly after this incident, DHS-CRI began reevaluating their system to ensure a full functional program. Throughout Wednesday's upcoming exercise, volunteers from the Medical Reserve Corps will be assisting local government employees to distribute necessary antibiotics to civilians who have been exposed to biological contamination.
An emergency operating center throughout the D.C. area will be activated for the exercise. "New communications capabilities have been utilized, directories of agency leadership teams have been updated and awareness of neighboring jurisdiction's capabilities have been refreshed," said McDermott.
The CPOD-SOG has been a requirement since 2006. Planning for this year's exercise began in November 2011. Families and servicemembers around the nation's capital can sleep soundly knowing that there are some whose job is to make sure that you exercise your daily rights and freedoms as Americans.
If you are around the area when an exercise is taking place please take all precautions.