U. Arkansas Tests Emergency Response to Arena Attack

Test simulated a chemical threat and IED attack on college arena

The Department of Homeland Security set standards that must be met in order for agencies from the different counties to receive more funding in the future, he said.

Nothing like the simulations was done before Sept. 11, Luther said.

"September 11 opened a lot of people's eyes," he said.

"There will be terrorist events and natural events, we have to prepare our citizens and responders to avoid events if possible, and have disaster response."

Virgil Hamilton, an usher for the university's sporting events, said making buildings safer was necessary.

"That is what our job is. That way more people can enjoy, knowing that it's safer," Hamilton said. He said ushers check possible threats but there is still a possibility something could get past them.Hamilton and his wife were volunteer actors.

Luther said Fayetteville was probably not under a major threat, but it was good to be prepared because exercises like these help not only with weapons of mass destruction but also with mass casualties from natural disasters like the tornadoes of past weeks.

The exercises also served to test new equipment that was bought with the funds from last year. About $700,000 from funds, which vary from year to year, were used to buy equipment for decontamination, communication devices, trucks and things like masks, Luther said.

One of the things being tested was a new communication device. The Arkansas Wireless Information Network is a statewide radio system that allows state agencies to communicate by radio even from long-range.

"We could communicate by radio to Conway for re-enforcement, for example," Luther said.

Communication with the entire state would still be available if the phones went out.

"It will complement the local communication system," Luther said. "The equipment could be used for other things, not just WMDs," he said.

Luther said he was very thankful for the neighboring counties and to the university for their cooperation.

"With the networking and cooperation effort, I think that spells success," he said.

Driving, parking and pedestrian traffic around the arena was restricted from Monday evening until the exercise was finished, at around 4 p.m. Tuesday. West Leroy Pond Drive and parking lots 56B, 56C, 60, & 62 were closed to traffic. Also, some bus routes were rerouted away from the exercise area, according to the release.


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