St. Charles Herald-Guide

Test for first responders is the bomb

By Michelle Stuckey - January 19, 2012

Emergency officials and responders from St. Charles, St. John and St. James parishes came together on Thursday, Jan. 12 to test their skills in disarming bombs.

They took part in a full-scale improvised explosive device response exercise in which officers went through the motions as if a real bomb was found.

The exercise took place in Taft near the Dow chemical plant and did not include any actual bombs or hazardous material. The goal of the event was to closely simulate a real-life event to give parish responders the highest level of experience and training possible.

Responders took turns suiting up and heading into the "hot zone" in which the simulated hazardous material and bomb were found. They would then assess the situation and report back to officials, going through a "warm zone" for decontamination on the way out.

The simulation also included a scenario where the person who planted the bomb barricaded themselves in a building with a hostage. Police officers then had to practice dealing with the hostage situation.

Representatives from several agencies attended the event, including the St. Charles Emergency Operations Center, St. Charles Sheriff’s Office, St. Charles Rapid Assessment Team, St. Charles Hospital and similar departments from St. John and St. James parishes.

The exercise allowed the agencies to test knowledge and skills that they recently acquired during an IED recognition course by the River and Bayou Parishes Task Force and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.

The course was designed to help officials prepare to meet the threat of domestic and international terrorism. The agencies involved also took part in terrorist surveillance and detection training.