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Dave Olson, Published August 13 2013

Bogus radiation threat spurs Fargo-Moorhead training exercise

FARGO – The Fargo-Moorhead area will buzz this week with more than 100 emergency responders participating in a training exercise based on an imaginary radiation threat.

The North Dakota National Guard’s Bismarck-based 81st Civil Support Team will lead the training, which will involve additional civil support teams from Minnesota, Wyoming and Oregon.

Several federal, state, local and private industry representatives will also take part, including local fire and police departments.

The emergency scenario is based on an imaginary World Energy Forum being held in the Fargo-Moorhead area that is interrupted by reports that radioactive devices have been stolen.

The response to the bogus scenario will include multiple sweeps at the Fargodome and Moorhead High School.

A local hospital will also be the scene for some of the activity.

The goal of the exercises is to improve collaboration between the agencies involved in meeting an ever-changing situation, said Amy Wieser Willson, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota National Guard.

The exercises kicked off Tuesday with a sweep of the Fargodome after the “discovery” that a radioactive device had been stolen.

“As the scenario develops, other agencies will come into play at different times during the week,” Willson said.

North Dakota’s 81st Civil Support Team includes about a dozen soldiers and airmen trained to help civilian first responders react to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive materials.

All of the participants in this week’s exercises will wear civilian clothing to minimize the alarm to the public as the emergency workers respond to imaginary situations, Willson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555