Guard, local agencies hold hazmat drill

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By The Staff

A unit of the New Mexico National Guard last week held an exercise with local agencies to prepare for the possibility of a hazardous materials incident.

The 64th Civil Support Team from Rio Rancho supports state and local authorities for manmade and natural disasters and incidents involving weapons of mass destruction and hazardous materials.

The team and local agencies held a two-day training last Monday and Tuesday. Participants included the state police, the city police, emergency medical services and local emergency response teams. The Las Vegas Fire Department hosted the exercise.

The Civil Support Team is coordinating with emergency first responders throughout New Mexico, starting with the local entity.

“Our involvement with the community is imperative in order for us to complete our mission,” Maj. Troy Chadwell, the team’s deputy commander, said in a statement. “We have to understand what each agency’s capabilities are and what their roles are if anything happens.”

The mock disaster proceeded as follows: The local fire chief requests support after a truck traveling southwest through town is unable to stop at an intersection and jumps a curb to rest in the parking lot of a tennis court. The truck driver tries to exit the truck and falls to the ground. The truck is found to be carrying mock barrels of hazardous materials. The two items begin mixing and cause a chemical reaction. As a result, the Civil Support Team is called in to assist in the identification and mitigation of the items.

“Overall, the event was a success,” said Maj. Dominic Dennis, the 64th Civil Support Team commander. “We succeeded in our primary objective, which was to interface with the Las Vegas community authorities and re-establish how we operate with them.”

The Civil Support Team plans to continue such trainings throughout the state.