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.