The operation, known as Red Dragon, is conducted by the 335th Signal Command (Theater). Red Dragon is an annual chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear driven exercise that uses Army Reserve chemical units to respond, assess, decontaminate and treat mass casualties.
The exercise is conducted in several communities and states and helps strengthen coordination between the Army Reserve units and local first responders, authorities and civilian medical personnel.
Pell City Fire chief Patrick Draper said the Pell City Fire Department will participate in the exercise from 8 a.m. until mid-afternoon Saturday and Sunday.
According to Major Jeff Weir, the Talladega portion of the exercise will also take place Saturday and Sunday, at the infield of the Talladega Super Speedway.
The exercise will begin Saturday morning with a reported biological attack. A Biological Integrated Detection System (BIDS) will be set up to take air samples, and a reconnaissance team will be sent out to estimate the size of the area that will need to be decontaminated.
An assembly line style decontamination operation will then be established.
“We will be using up to 300 soldiers in civilian clothes as victims, as well as some cadavers that will need to be cleared. Some of them will be older, and there will be some pregnant women. All of them will need to be decontaminated before we can turn them over to the emergency medical personnel.”
The Talladega exercise will begin around 8 a.m., with the reconnaissance teams going out at around 9 a.m., at the same time the BIDS will be arriving, and the mass decontamination will get under way around 2 p.m. Saturday.
Sunday’s exercise will be somewhat smaller, Weir said.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, homeland defense has been a significant mission for the 335th Signal Command (Theater). Current and past events have shown the need for cities and communities around the U.S. to be prepared to respond to all types of disasters. Whether natural, like the recent earthquakes in Japan, which caused nuclear contamination, man-made disasters such as a possible industrial chemical explosion, or random acts of terrorism, soldiers of the 335th Signal Command (Theater) stand ready to respond.
Red Dragon 2011 will involve the movement of soldiers and military equipment through some communities, as well as emergency response.
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