Bio-War Exercise Tested Emergency Response

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SECURITY BEAT

A recent regional exercise served as a national test bed for bio-terrorism response for states and counties. The McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, about 90 miles south of Tulsa, Okla., was a participant in a community-wide exercise that simulated a plague attack, followed immediately by the appropriate response, said the plants commander, Army Col. Jyuji Hewitt. The McAlester plant, a Tier I depot, is the prime producer of bombs for the Navy and the Air Force.

The exercise began with a small airplane spraying a liquid, simulating a toxin that would cause plague, over an area that encompassed three counties. Then, first responders worked together to call upon a national stockpile of medications to treat themselves and the rest of the community. More than 13,000 participants, private citizens, lined up to receive the cocktail of antibiotics, which, for the purpose of the exercise, was a small bag of jellybeans.

Hewitt said he wanted his Army civilian employees involved in this exercise, because "It is a readiness issue. …