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Public Affairs Office title

U.S. Army Soldier & Biological Chemical Command
U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340
amssb-opa@natick.army.mil

Date: November 26, 2002
No: 02-57

Workshop assesses readiness to terrorism

NATICK, Mass. -- A two-day workshop at the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center Recreation Center Nov. 13-14 assessed the capabilities of the Soldier Systems Center, Town of Natick, federal and state agencies, and medical service providers responding to a weapon of mass destruction attack.

Day One informed participants of the implications of a weapons of mass destruction incident on the installation, local community departments, town officials, hospital administrators, state emergency management agency managers and regional hazardous materials team directors.

Facilitators on the second day divided participants into their respective groups for fire and hazardous materials, security and law enforcement, medical, and command and control to discuss their response to a terrorist chemical agent release scenario.

The scenario consisted of mass casualties and fatalities, mass decontamination, on-scene medical treatment, victim transport, perimeter and site security, and crime scene preservation.

At the end of the day, a representative from each group gave a brief presentation to all the groups highlighting what they learned.

"The assessment gives us an opportunity to see what our strengths and weaknesses are in developing a WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) response," said Natick Fire Department Chief James Brien. "It's something we all have to be aware of. We hope we don't have to respond to it, but we need to be prepared."

With the prominence of the Soldier Systems Center in the Town of Natick, the event was another opportunity to work together with local officials.

"We've always enjoyed a cooperative relationship, and we understand our responsibilities to participate," said Natick Police Chief Dennis Mannix. "That was demonstrated particularly (after Sept. 11, 2001). We've gotten to know the people here much better."

According to the facilitators, who have held dozens of the workshops across the country and overseas, Massachusetts is among the best prepared states in the country. The final evaluation showed that Natick and the installation scored high in preparedness.

"It's an outstanding benefit for the installation and Town of Natick to prepare for such an event," said John Manning, deputy to the commander for installation management.

"The National Protection Center had already developed partnerships and had built trust with state and local agencies," said Bill Haskell, the National Protection Center's technical program development manager. "It was very easy for us to reach out and request their participation and cooperation in this effort."

Emerging from the workshop was the re-establishment of Natick's Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), which is responsible for planning for emergencies involving hazardous materials.

Under federal law, the LEPC is required to meet at least twice annually to review and update the town's comprehensive emergency management plan and conduct at least one disaster drill per year.

The last disaster drill scheduled for Sept. 12, 2001, was canceled because of the terrorist attacks, but another drill is planned for 2003.

The Soldier Systems Center is part of the U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM). For more information about SBCCOM or the Center, please visit our website at http://www.sbccom.army.mil.

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