The last terrorist attack on American soil was more than two years ago, but local agencies are not slowing down their preparations for any future attack. As part of that preparation process, the Valdosta Fire Department went through another round of hazardous material training Tuesday.
They learned how to respond to the absolute latest threats from terrorism to chemical spills. HAZMAT experts say this kind of training is a must to deal with the growing threats to American health and safety.
"It keeps our guys up to date on HAZMAT response and also introduces any new concepts or techniques they might not be aware of," says Ken Gallagher, a Valdosta firefighter.
Valdosta's fire chief says classes like this one are a requirement for all HAZMAT crews, considering the possible threats to the public's safety.
“You think about the WMD threat that's present today, we had several incidents a few years ago when the anthrax scare was prevalent, we responded to those. From time to time we'll have a chemical that may be released from a manufacturing facility or transportation facility," says Chief J.D. Rice of the Valdosta Fire Department.
In addition to classroom and field training, all of Valdosta's HAZMAT team members are also being taught how to use technology to help detect a problem.
"This is an APD 2000, it’s a chemical agent monitor and it has a very limited use, but when it comes to nerve or blister agents, or gamma radiation, that will detect those things up," adds Ken Gallagher.
Thus becoming more prepared to deal with any dangerous chemical or biological threat that may arise.
Many people may not think Valdosta would need such a prepared team, but with all the traffic from the interstate, rail lines and even air traffic, the threat of an attack or spill is always growing.
The Valdosta crew is working with similar crews in Tallahassee, Gainesville and Dothan to help better respond to any problem in our region.