Guard Preps for Bio-Terror

By: Wendy Suares
By: Wendy Suares

Black Hawk helicopters hit the ground in Canton on Wednesday.

Dozens of specially trained National Guardsmen were inside, ready to deal with a mock scenario, an unknown and deadly chemical inside the multi-purpose center.

"We have to fight 21st century warfare and that's the warfare of terrorism. And terrorism could hit our state," said Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, Mississippi's Adjutant General.

After the quick reactionary forces secured the area, another unit got to work.

The civil support team geared up in space-like suits. The 22 member team specializes in weapons of mass destruction.

"This is our first time in this game with these guys, interacting with them, so it's a brand new venue for us," said Lt. Gordon Ditto of the 47th Civil Support Team.

It's their job to comb the area and building to find out exactly what chemical is inside and tell authorities what needs to be done.

This is the first drill of its kind in a public place, but these guys know the more times they practice, the quicker their response will be in a real disaster anywhere in the state.

The goal is to respond anywhere in the state within three and a half hours after receiving the order from the governor.

The National Guard wants Mississippians across the state to feel more secure knowing they're there to back up local authorities.

"It should give them a comforting feeling that we're going to be assisting local law enforcement," Cross said. "Your town may not have but 15 policemen."

The National Guard is known for quick response in natural disasters, but this drill proves it is preparing to take on a much different scenario.


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