Seoul prepares for biological terrorism threat
SEOUL, Republic of Korea --A joint biological terrorism exercise was held in the middle of the city to reinforce the readiness to respond to a possible biological terrorism attack in the Seoul Metropolitan Area, May 8.
The Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of National Defense of Korea, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Seoul Metropolitan organized the joint exercise. Both the Seoul City Fire Department and U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan's Fire Department participated by providing Hazardous Material and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) emergency response teams at the exercise incident site inside the busy Samgakji Subway Station, across from Camp Kim and the Ministry of National Defense of Korea.
The exercise scenario was a bio-terrorism attack on citizens within the subway, followed by emergency evacuation and treatment of the citizens exposed to the simulated terrorism attack.
"Today we responded and set up our hazardous material decontamination tent for the city. We also assisted with the patient and emergency first responder decontamination," said Alex Temporado, USAG Yongsan's Fire Department Chief. "Today's exercise was meaningful because it was the first time we got to practice a hazardous material and WMD exercise scenario with our fellow Seoul City Fire Department."
As the exercise began, thick smoke simulated from a biological attack filled the metro station and smothered the citizens. As exercise participants rolled on the floor in pain, the response teams composed of fire fighters from Seoul City, Yongsan Garrison Fire Department, and ROKA soldiers from NBC protection headquarters rushed into the station and evacuated the citizens out of the station.
"This was the first time we really saw each other on the large scale exercise as this and actually assisted in decontamination," Temporado said. "We learned a lot today and overall the exercise went really well. I have seen some really good cooperation and teamwork between the Seoul City fire emergency responders and ours. There was a lot of coordination taking place, and our decontamination operation went flawlessly."
The evacuated citizens were treated through the decontamination washing process provided by Yongsan Garrison Fire Department and checked out by medical teams, then evacuated to nearby hospitals. The exercise was beneficial to the security of both Yongsan Garrison and Seoul City, Temporado said.
"We are going to take what we learned today, and discuss it more with our own fire fighters and with Seoul City firefighters," Temporado said. "We will do some more scenarios like this so we can get better and better."