Mercer and Lawrence County National Guard staging mock anthrax e - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Mercer and Lawrence County National Guard staging mock anthrax exercise

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HARRISBURG, Pa. - National Guard units from Mercer and Lawrence Counties will be testing their readiness to work in concert with local and federal government agencies under emergency conditions as part of a ten day exercise involving guard units in the rest of  Pennsylvania and seven other states.

The Pennsylvania National Guard is hosting a multi-agency emergency-preparedness exercise called Vigilant Guard today through May 16, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Lebanon County.

Secondary training events are scheduled to take place in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lawrence, Mercer and Philadelphia counties.

On Thursday, the Lawrence County Fairgrounds will be the site of a  joint civilian/military response to a simulated anthrax event.  The Pennsylvania Department of  Health will set up two points of distribution sites in Lawrence and Mercer Counties to exercise their mass distribution of medical countermeasures plan.

The exercise is hosted quarterly by U.S. Northern Command and is not being held in response to any specific threat. It is designed to evaluate and enhance the integration of local, state and federal responders under one command structure. It will also test the ability of different agencies to provide continuity of services for an extended period of time.

Approximately 2,500 exercise participants from eight state National Guards, National Guard Bureau, U.S.. NORTH COM, more than 20 Pennsylvania state agencies, five federal agencies, and others will react to simulated emergencies, such as terrorist activity, severe weather and infectious diseases, in an effort to protect and aid citizens of Pennsylvania and FEMA Region III, which also includes the District of Columbia, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.

The Pennsylvania National Guard operates a state Civil Support Team that specializes in response to nuclear, biological, radiological or chemical attacks, as well as the region’s Homeland Response Force, which could be called to oversee civil-support operations during certain large-scale disasters.

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