Lowcountry first responders training to handle Weapons of Mass D - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry first responders training to handle Weapons of Mass Destruction

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

For the first time in two years, the South Carolina Hazardous Materials Task Force is training technicians to handle weapons of mass destruction. 

Hilton Head and Bluffton firefighters practiced responding to emergency situations with chemical and biological weapons. 

In these scenarios, technicians responded to dangerous chemicals and powder scattered throughout an office building full of employees.

The Hazmat team has to get the people who were stuck inside, out of the building while trying to figure out what kind of hazardous material they’re dealing with.

“We respond to about 25 to 50 hazmat incidents a year in varying sizes, but WMD incidents are pretty few and far between,” said Ed Boring, Hilton Head Fire Department. “These types of events happen all over the country. It’s only a matter of time before we end up dealing with them in a live environment here. We always want to train and try to stay ahead of the curb so we’re ready to respond.”

They don’t respond to Weapons of Mass Destruction calls often, but this team has to be ready.  

“It takes a lot of training of course. All of our folks are hazmat technicians, and they go to a lot of advanced training to be able to identify weapons of destruction, and understand how to work with them and identify them,” said Boring.

The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division says the state hasn’t conducted a Weapons of Mass Destruction training exercise in two years, but they’re revamping the program again, starting in Hilton Head.

“In this particular case, the training includes identifying chemical and biological agents and collecting samples and bringing it back to our technical stuff out here to identify what the product actually is,” said Boring.

Hilton Head’s deputy fire chief says they have to get the process down to a science, because if there’s ever a chemical, biological, or radiological threat in the Lowcountry, they’re team would be responsible for a lot of lives.

“We respond all over all over southern Beaufort County, and Jasper County. As a part of the state WMD task force, we have a five county here in Southern South Carolina,” said Boring.

SLED says this training exercise in Hilton Head is very special. The department is going to use this exercise as a template to design training exercises for the state’s 37 special response teams. 

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