Law enforcement officers from Churchill County and Fallon — along with the Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit from Naval Air Station Fallon and the Nevada Army National Guard’s 92nd Civil Support Team — recently conducted a full-scale training exercise that focused on an anarchist who had bomb-making and hazardous material in his county home.
Officers obtained a mock search warrant based on confidential material. Through a Memorandum of Understanding with the base, the EOD unit was requested to neutralize any simulated explosives that may have been rigged to an entry point in the man’s house. While serving the warrant, the EOD unit discovered a crude laboratory and numerous simulated unknown chemical agents in the residence.
As a result of the discovery, local officials requested the 92nd CST, which arrived in Churchill County with a convoy of 10 vehicles including a mobile laboratory, communication gear and a contingent of medical and scientific technicians. Each of the specialty organizations was required to make several entries into the apartment to neutralize the simulated explosives and hazardous chemicals.
To enter a possible contamination zone, technicians were required to dress in type-A protective suits and go through a decontamination process each time they exited the apartment. The ambient temperature was 97 degrees, which makes time in a fully contained plastic suit very uncomfortable.
According to emergency planning officials, this type of full-scale exercise is essential for local first responders to have familiarity with the personnel and resources that are provided by these specially equipped and trained military organizations. The exercise also cements a personal relationship among the participants; furthermore, participants said communication and cooperation is always easier and more effective between agencies that have trained together rather than meeting for the first time during a real incident.
The training required that a portion of Rice Road to be closed to local traffic during the exercise. Emergency planning officials said residents were very cooperative and understanding during the six hours that were necessary to complete the scenario.
“Rice Road was detoured through Carson River Drive for the duration,” CCSO Sheriff Ben Trotter said. “All residents affected by the traffic control were notified by letter a few days prior to the event. “
Trotter said he volunteered his vacant in-laws quarters for the drill to allow for a more realistic scenario.
“I believe it was very good training and allowed for a lot of inter-agency collaboration and coordination,” he said.
Trotter said CCSO Capt. Mike Matheson served as incident commander.
Local emergency planning coordinators said the state of Nevada Emergency Response Commission requires that a local jurisdiction conduct at least one full-scale exercise every three years.
“Staying in compliance with these requirements is critical,” Trotter said. “This state agency provided grant funds and supplemental training that enables our local first responders to maintain a high state of readiness to protect our citizens.”