Firefighters from Wichita County and Sheppard Air Force Base gathered at the city training facility on Wednesday, for what they thought would be some simple drills. Little did they know the WFFD Training Captain and an Emergency Response Specialist from Sheppard Air Force Base had surprises waiting for them.
As firefighters and EMS set up a command post at a mock community event near Washington Jackson Elementary, they were called to a dumpster fire nearby. One truck quickly answered the call, but as they doused the flames, training coordinators set off two flash bangs nearby.
Volunteers acting as victims rushed to the scene of the explosions, while others ran to alert the firefighters at the dumpster. Those firefighters treated the victims who ran at them, and radioed for help.
Before they could get to the scene of the explosion, they got word from dispatch that someone had phoned in a threat. A dispatcher read the message from the fictional bomber over the closed radio channel. The message said, "Not to be concerned with fires or burns that may result, but take caution of those who become dirty from my bomb. Good luck cleaning up."
The revaluation that the bomb may be dirty triggered a whole new set of protocols, sending firefighters and the crew from Sheppard scrambling for Hazmat gear.
SAFB Emergency Management Specialist Jeremy Kirk said, "For a hazardous material incident, they sit back and decide what their roles are going to be, the objectives they need to meet when they go in, so our responders don't become casualties as well."
Crews threw on protective suits and made their way to the victims, carefully scanning the area for radiation and other dangers. Once back at the command center, victims and responders went through the complete decontamination process.
Wichita Falls Fire Training Captain Tim Pierson said everyone involved followed the right protocol and responded well, but added, there's always room for improvement. He said, "We can always make things better, and I think its going to be a great, great learning tool for us."