Suspicious Package Causes Scare at Air Guard Base

Emergency management training at the Key Field Air National Guard Base was put to the test when two personnel in this operations building opened a suspicious package that was never intended for them.

"When they opened it up, they spilled a white powder. At that time, we evacuated that facility and isolated those personnel," Col. Eric Bratu, vice commander of the wing, says.

After those individuals were exposed to the powder inside, they were then considered to be contaminated. Without knowing for certain, they followed proper protocol. The base shut down the building, called in authorities, decontaminated those individuals and carried them to Rush Hospital. The whole process took about 25 minutes.

"We identified what we thought was potentially a training aid that was used approximately 4 or 5 years ago," Col. Bratu explains. "They were supposed to be out of circulation, but we had some folks cleaning the mailroom and think one might have slipped back in."

Those training packages were intended to only be used in the mailroom, and they thought this might have been one that accidentally found its way into the operations building... much to the surprise of the two who opened it. But they weren't certain until their team on base, as well as the Civil Support Team from Jackson, were able to test the strange powder.... and confirm their suspicion.

The results found that that mystery substance was actually 65 percent garlic powder, which is often used in military training. And although this wasn't a real threat, Col. Bratu says he's impressed with the response from everyone involved.

"Very well pleased with the response," he says. "If this had been a real world event, we've had the folks quarantined. We had the right folks getting proper medical treatment if there were problems. The response from the city agencies, outstanding, the response from the federal agencies, outstanding. "

The two men currently seem to be in perfect health.