Don't be alarmed, it's WMD training

Firefighters and police will be all over Horry County next week, training how to respond to weapons of mass destruction.

Public safety agencies from across the state will be a part of the exercise. State specialized response teams include Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT), Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), Hazardous Materials Teams (HazMat), and the Regional Medical Assistance Team (RMAT).

"We are extremely fortunate to have obtained the funding to host such a large-scale event," stated Matthew Smith, team leader for the Pee Dee RMAT and chief of medical training for Horry County Fire Rescue in a press release. "This first-of-a-kind exercise, specifically utilizing these specialized response teams while stressing interoperability, is exactly what the field level provider has been requesting. We are preparing for worse-case scenarios, with the hope of never having to utilize these skills."

The Pee Dee Regional Medical Assistance Team (RMAT) should be able to help quickly in terrorist events like chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear events. It can also help during severe natural disasters. The RMAT mission is to provide a temporary medical center to treat patients and move casualties.

You'll see most of the activity from the exercise around South Strand Regional Medical Center, Aynor High School, Horry County Public Works and the City of Conway Shooting Range.

Funding for this exercise was provided by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) through the Department of Homeland Security WMD Exercise Grant Program. This year, Horry County Emergency Management received a grant award from the South Carolina Emergency Management Division to contract Red Tail Tactical Technology, Inc., to evaluate first responders in their ability to respond to high threat critical incidents and assess the teams' capabilities.