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Unannounced hazardous materials drill conducted Wednesday at Fulton hospital

Unannounced hazardous materials drill conducted Wednesday at Fulton hospital

November 8th, 2012 in News

About 100 nmarked black SUVs, many of them with satellite dishes mounted on their tops, and other unmarked black vehicles converged on a site in back of Fulton State Hospital grounds Wednesday for a national earthquake response exercise coordinated by the Missouri National Guard.

Photo by Don Norfleet

Without notice, about 100 unmarked black vehicles assembled shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday morning in a back lot of the Fulton State Hospital just off Route O near Fulton.

Soldiers and airmen clad in fatigues and some in hooded hazardous material suits began to enact Vigilant Guard, a mock National Guard exercise designed to simulate a major earthquake originating along the New Madrid Fault in Southeast Missouri.

In all more than 4,600 National Guardsmen from around the nation took part in the massive exercise from Nov. 3 to Nov. 7. Mock training events were held in Fulton, Jefferson City, Columbia, Neosho, Macon, St. Joseph, Kansas City, Maryville, Trenton, Marshall, Festus, Lexington and St. Louis.

Scenarios for training exercises included complications from communications and electrical power outages, transportation and structural damages, medical care, lack of food an water supplies along with hazardous materials and civil disorder issues.

The brief and frequently unannounced exercises often were completed before local people learn what was occurring.

Guardsmen came unannounced to Fulton because the Vigilant Guard exercise had created a mock scenario of a chemical spill in a hospital laboratory. The guardsmen were assigned the task of determining if the chemical spill was dangerous enough to require evacuation of hospital patients.