Yokosuka drill focuses on nerve gas attack
Yokosuka Naval Base firefighters got to practice containing a nerve gas attack Tuesday when they joined local Japanese police and defense personnel in a terrorism drill.
The Miura Peninsula Area Joint Disaster Prevention Drill involved a simulated sarin nerve gas attack — and the fallout of having to treat victims and contain the area.
The exercise was part of an annual joint disaster prevention drill, said Shuichi Ushio, from Yokosuka city’s fire department disaster prevention division.
The two-part training involved four cities and one town and included a special disaster portion, of which the terrorism drill was part. Other events, including a range of standard firefighting drills, also were held.
Peter Novick, emergency management officer for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Japan, said Yokosuka Naval Base’s fire department was invited as part of its mutual firefighting assistance agreement. CNFJ oversees all the fire departments on bases in Japan.
“They went from drill to drill. They finished one and then rolled right into the next one,” he said. “We’re all out there to do a variety of drills, from earthquake response to chemical attack.”
Novick said holding drills around the anniversary of the 1995 Kobe earthquake is typical.
The chemical terror attack drill took place in Yokosuka city. Hidemi Nagao, a CNFJ spokesman, said the city erected a fake building for the exercise, which was premised on a gas being spread in the lobby.
“Then it turned out to be a kind of terrorist attack,” he said. Kanagawa Prefectural police and fire departments were the first called in, Nagao said. Then the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force, which has a unit specially trained to cope with such attacks, was summoned.
Russ Tarver, deputy fire marshal for Yokosuka Naval Base, said firefighters from the main base conducted a hazardous material response to the simulated sarin gas attack.
He said 14 people from main base and Ikego fire departments took part, deploying two fire pumpers, a HAZMAT van and a command vehicle. The firefighters from Ikego responsed to a burning-building drill with fire departments from Zushi and Hiyama cities, he said.
This is the second terror attack drill the cities held. Last year, they staged a terror attack on a bus, Ushio said.
“With the September terrorism attacks two years ago and what is happening in the society in recent years ... we wanted to strengthen regional coordination with different organizations in a case of disaster,” he said.
More than 30 organizations, including the Yokosuka Doctors’ Association, Yokosuka Hospital and Yokosuka Nurses Association, took part in the drills, according to Ushio.