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Statewide Weapons Of Mass Destruction Drill Underway in Des Moines

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- This week you may notice extra emergency vehicles and public safety officers running around in tactical gear, Hazmat suits, and bomb suits. It's a part of a statewide drill Des Moines is hosting Tuesday and Wednesday to prepare emergency personnel for dealing with weapons of mass destruction.

Brian O'Keefe with the Des Moines Fire Department said emergency officials in Iowa need to be prepared for anything.

"You know we're number one seed producer with corn and soy, chicken embryo development, middle of the country heartland. So I'm sure all states access it. But we're a target like any other large community," said O'Keefe.

More than 100 emergency response personnel from around the state will participate including bomb technicians, law enforcement and Iowa Homeland Security.

Tuesday morning officials will met at the Wells Fargo Arena and review proper procedures for dealing with potential WMDs. After the review they'll get into teams and go through various stations assessing different hypothetical situations and practicing with different detection equipment.

Because most teams already know how to handle WMDs on their own, officials say working together with local, regional, and state agencies is what will be most important in these exercises.

"It's the leadership that's critical. We will always learn what we can over these next couple of days, but most of that's already shared. We've already standardized the tactics the techniques and the procedures so this is just more of doing the handshake, of making sure we're both working on the same plan and making sure that what we've trained for actually flows smoothly," said O'Keefe.

On Wednesday personnel will hold a large scale drill at the Wells Fargo Arena and on the east side of Des Moines.

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