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Ref: New Jersey responders drill for chemical attack

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Borough prepares for catastrophe
Courtroom chemical attack: It's only a drill. Those involved build confidence for future.

The Express-Times
WASHINGTON | Emergency responders staged a "nightmare" disaster drill Thursday night at the borough municipal building.

The scenario was a chemical attack on the courtroom involving six victims. The entire building was closed off, including the Fire Department.

"This would actually be a nightmarish situation," Washington Emergency Squad Capt. Joe Groff said. "This is going to be an excellent drill to learn from."

The drill played out in real-time and was intended to reflect an authentic situation. The Army National Guard Civil Support Team from Fort Dix joined in the scenario with 60 local responders.

Jerry McGhee, of the Center for National Response, plans these drills in Charleston, W.Va., with experts in terrorism. McGhee is scheduled to conduct 80 drills this year.

"It certainly gives (local responders) an opportunity to see what the (civil support team) has to offer them," McGhee said. "They share a lot of valuable information."

The drill began at 5 p.m. and was expected to last six hours. Washington Fire and Emergency Squad, Warren County Emergency Management and HazMat participated in the drill.

Frank Wheatley, the county's emergency management coordinator, said crews were assuming it was a terrorist attack.

"It isn't very likely, but it doesn't preclude us from training," Wheatley said. "It could be a criminal act; a disgruntled individual who doesn't like the judge."

HazMat crews put on fluorescent green suits and looked like something out of the movie "E.T." Inside the courthouse, volunteers played the roles of victims.

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