Emergency Crews Prepare for Des Moines’ Major Events in 2016

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Two events next year will bring national exposure to Des Moines, but authorities say that comes with the potential for an attack.

In March, the city will host the first and second rounds of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament. Then in July, state leaders from across the nation will be in town for the National Governors Association's Summer Meeting.

Today, emergency crews from around the state gathered for “weapons of mass destruction training”.

At Wells Fargo Arena, Hazmat crews and a local bomb squad worked together to diffuse a situation involving a chemical attack.

Meanwhile, the 71st Civil Support Team worked with local police departments to detain a suspect, search a home for explosives and chemicals, and to decontaminate those involved.

"We don't want the first time Hazmat, tactical, and bomb squad speak together to be at the real world event,” said Captain Kevin Johnson, the operations officer for the 71st Civil Support Team.

The training is held each year but moved to Des Moines this year in preparation of the tournament that will bring 25,000 visitors and a conference that brought 30 governors to Iowa back in 2005.

While crews from across Iowa participated in the training, organizers say it’s unclear whether they will all be needed come March.

“It will be accessed based on what the threat level is around the world and in the United States primarily at the time. We may also be asked to help not at the event, but there's other places we may able to help,” said Captain Mike Cheney, Hazmat coordinator for the Cedar Rapids Fire Department.


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