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Airmen at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam held their first “disease containment” exercise last week to practice response to an attack involving a contagion as a weapon, base officials said.

The drill was part of a Pacific Air Force mandate to practice responding to possible anthrax, smallpox or other disease-based weapons, according to Master Sgt. Tommy Rhodes, superintendent of exercises and inspections at the 36th Wing’s Inspector General’s office.

The exercise began with a suspicious package being left at an office, Rhodes said. First responders quarantined the area and began to treat possible victims. The fake scare also set in motion a series of notifications throughout the base, from schools and the post exchange to unit commanders, he said.

The exercise lasted about 24 hours and barely disrupted base activities, Rhodes said. The base’s front gate was closed for about 30 minutes.

The scenario also involved practice in notifying Guam public officials, but the local agencies were not asked to participate in the drill, Rhodes said. It’s possible the drill will expand to include Guam officials next time, he said.

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