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Virginia National Guard practices for the worst with simulation exercise in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - A special Virginia National Guard response force is training in Virginia Beach in preparation for the worst.

The special response force is capable of providing support to first responders and civil authorities after a chemical, biological or nuclear incident.

In Virginia Beach, the unit is undergoing an external evaluation of their ability to respond to a simulated emergency situation with collapsed structures and an improvised radioactive detonation.

The force is made up of Soldiers and Airmen from Virginia National Guard units based in Petersburg, West Point, Rocky Mount and Langley Air Force Base, as well as personnel from the Washington D.C. Air National Guard.

According to the Guard, the "unit’s mission is to provide immediate response capability to the governor for searching an incident site that might include damaged and collapsed buildings, rescuing any casualties, decontaminating them and performing medical triage and initial treatment to stabilize them for transport to a medical facility."

The Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group provides training readiness oversight for the force.

During the exercise, "the unit will be evaluated on different major tasks including conducting search and extraction operations, conducting rope extraction operations, establishing a response decontamination site, conducting ambulatory and non-ambulatory decontamination, conducting military personnel and equipment decontamination, conducting casualty collection and medical triage and providing treatment and emergency care for causalities."

There are currently 27 of the specialized teams available nationwide with three in FEMA Region 3 in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.