Local agencies participate in exercise

Thomas Garcia

QCS senior writer

Members of the Tucumcari Police, Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and Quay County Sheriff’s Office participated Tuesday in a weapons of mass destruction incident exercise.

“This exercise includes the identification of a biological hazard and the removal of an injured team member,” said. Major Xavier Miller of the New Mexico National Guard.

Miller is the commander of the 64th Civil Support Team (CST), a New Mexico National Guard unit with statewide responsibility in the event of a WMD incident.

“We train and educate agencies on the protocol to be followed in a WMD incident,” Miller said, and later noted that the exercise helps agencies get familiar with each other in case an actual emergecny does happen.

Tucumcari Fire Chief Mike Cherry said the exercise is compressed on time, as the actual call and response to an incident would vary.

“We had contacted all the local agencies ahead of time,” Cherry said, noting information and techniques shared with the local agencies was, “invaluable.”

The local agencies and CST personnel were working a biological simulation exercise. Miller said in the scenario, a biological agent had been responsible for sick/ infected livestock and people.

“The CST personnel will try to identify the substance located on a bale of hay,” Miller said. “They will then investigate a mock lab in a nearby trailer compartment.”

Miller said no hazardous materials are used during the exercises, and nobody is in danger.

“We use a simulant or small amount of an agent,” Miller said. “Nothing that would ever cause any harm.”