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Ref: Arizona state and local responders participate in nuclear response drill

| 12.08.2006 | 06:43:357904 |

The Arizona Daily Star


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Published: 12.05.2006

D-M exercise simulates nuclear nightmare



By Dale Quinn

ARIZONA DAILY STAR

A training exercise sent more than 300 members of local, state and federal agencies onto Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Monday morning for a simulation of what might happen if a U.S. airplane hauling four nuclear weapons crashed in Tucson.

The exercise is especially significant in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, said Lt. Col. Valerie Hasberry, the commander of the civil engineer squadron.

It has become essential that public safety and other first responders in different layers of government be able to communicate if such a catastrophe were to occur, she said.

The base's large yellow trucks sprayed fire-suppressing foam on bright orange flames in front of the mock wreckage. First on the scene of the fake emergency were Davis-Monthan firefighters wearing metallic silver suits with bright red helmets. Their first job was to secure the area around the plane and then check the wreckage for survivors.

A handful of people pretended to be joggers injured in the crash.

Tucson's Police Department and Fire Department participated in the exercise so they would be ready to play a supporting role if such an emergency were to occur.

Davis-Monthan is taking part in a national exercise to ensure that all agencies know how to respond to a natural or human-induced disaster on U.S. soil, said Col. Kent Laughbaum, the base installation commander.

The base has conducted exercises with local agencies before but never on such a large scope, Laughbaum said.

Hasberry said the likelihood of such a disaster occurring in Tucson is small, but the exercise is necessary to stay prepared.

"Tucson was chosen (for this exercise) because we have a good relationship with off-base agencies," Hasberry said.

National agencies participating included the Departments of Defense, Energy and Homeland Security.


● Contact reporter Dale Quinn at 629-9412 or dquinn@azstarnet.com.