Watervliet Arsenal hosts largest HAZMAT exercise in New York's Capital District
November 21, 2011
By John B. Snyder
WATERVLIET ARSENAL, N.Y. -- The Watervliet Arsenal and more than 100 local emergency first responders from four New York counties were activated Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, to respond a simulated attack by a disgruntled employee who was attempting to perform a terrorist act.
This simulated attack was part of a regional hazardous material or HAZMAT exercise at the Watervliet Arsenal. The scope of the exercise was to activate and integrate the Capital District Regional HAZMAT teams to respond to a simulated chemical attack and a continued hazardous materials release. New York's Homeland Security Office funded this exercise.
"Among the many potential disasters that we face today, terrorist attacks have become an increasing concern," said John Nuzback, the lead planner for the exercise and who is from the Schenectady County Emergency Management Office. "Therefore, the purpose of the exercise was to evaluate regional current response concepts, plans, and capabilities when responding to a suspected terrorist attack involving hazardous material."
HAZMAT response and security teams were deployed to secure the area, test the unknown substance, and to decontaminate any effected person (s) and equipment. The exercise started at 7 a.m. and ended at 2 p.m.
"Our key objectives for this exercise were to measure and validate the performance of key emergency response capabilities such as establishing communications, establishing a Command Post, integrating the multiple capabilities of the emergency response teams, and to perform technical and personal decontamination," Nuzback said.
This is the first time the Watervliet Arsenal has hosted a large-scale exercise of this type, said Arsenal Fire Chief John Whipple.
"What is great about this type of training is that it not only provides the Arsenal an opportunity to challenge our training levels to higher levels, the exercise also gives us great insight into better integrating and synchronizing unique capabilities of each regional response team," Whipple said.
The key take away is a continuing commitment from the Arsenal to improve communications and response times with supporting agencies from outside the Arsenal fence line, Whipple said.
Nuzback said that this exercise was the largest HAZMAT exercise ever conducted in New York's Capital District.
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