MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - While it may be a few more months before the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers take the field in Morgantown for the start of the 2019 college football season, behind the scenes work is already underway to ensure the safety and security of all fans who attend a home game.

The West Virginia National Guard's 35th Civil Support Team (Weapons of Mass Destruction) took part Wednesday in Operation Rough Ride, a WVU full-scale exercise, involving more than 150 participants from 25 departments/units representing 18 organizations from campus, local, state and federal agencies.

The exercise, which was sponsored by the WVU Police Department and WVU Office of Emergency Management, provided participants with an opportunity to assess capabilities, plans, policies and procedures, with a focus on decision-making, coordination, and integration between multiple agencies.

The simulated incident involved rescue and medical service response from first responders, security and incident management, as well as hazardous material response, a specialty of the 35th CST (WMD). Additional new technologies were tested during the exercise, including the use of drones by civilian responders for safely viewing potentially congested or blocked areas, and incident management software.

The 35th CST (WMD) supports civil authorities in responding to a domestic Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive (CBRNE) incident by identifying agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences, advising on response measures, and assisting with appropriate requests for additional State and Federal support.

"Preparedness exercises, such as Operation Rough Ride, are crucial events for our team to hone our skills to better support our local, state, and federal response partners. Maintaining a high state of readiness is paramount to our unit and the West Virginia National Guard's ability to proactively react to an incident as part of an interagency response capability for our region," said U.S. Army Maj Will Hargis, deputy commander of the 35th CST (WMD).

Fourteen personnel from the 35th CST (WMD) took part in the exercise in order to better synchronize with local agencies who support each WVU Mountaineers home football game.

The expected outcome of the exercise was to strengthen preparedness and response, test new technologies, and enhance overall readiness from a multi-agency perspective.

The 35th CST (WMD), headquartered in St. Albans, West Virginia, is one of 57 Civil Support Teams across the country and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for rapid deployment for response operations.