More than 35 members of the Southeast Missouri Regional Haz-Mat Team joined the Guardsmen during the eight-hour exercise, which simulated a terrorist attack, said Jackson Fire Chief Jason Mouser. The regional team is made up of members of the Jackson police and fire departments, the Cape Girardeau Fire Department and the Sikeston Department of Public Safety.
"We don't think of Cape County being a high target for a terrorist attack, but it's not out of the realm of possibility," Mouser said. "And if something like this were to happen in St. Louis, we'd have to assist them, too."
The training scenario involved a deputy getting exposed to an unknown contaminant while serving a warrant. Inside the residence, the deputy came across an unconscious man - a First-Aid dummy, in reality - along with a book on microbiology and blood agents.
The exercise involved the soldiers and first-responders donning their haz-mat suits and investigating the 'contaminated area,' in an effort to decrease response times and improve preparedness.
"The faster we can get here and the better our emergency response, the more effective we can be," said Maj. Jeffrey Ford, deputy commander of the team. "The direct result of that is saving lives."
The 22-member Guard team, a joint Army and Air Force unit that is based at Fort Leonard Wood, routinely trains with state and local emergency response teams throughout the state. By being familiar with how different agencies operate, the team is able to work alongside their civilian counterparts during real emergencies.
"Anytime we can improve our emergency response, we're going to do it," Ford said.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-888-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com.