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New Mexico emergency workers receive anti-terrorism training from NMSU

New Mexico emergency response personnel are being trained on anti-terrorism software at New Mexico State University's College of Business Administration and Economics.

From left: New Mexico State Police patrolmen Chris Stimpson, David Herrell, and Brian Burke are being trained on anti-terrorism software developed by Sandia National Laboratories. The training is taking place at New Mexico State University. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

rgency Response Atmospheric Dispersal (ERAD) model, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, allows first responders to quickly determine the effects of a radiological (dirty) bomb, rapidly produce evacuation contingency plans and make preliminary predictions as to the area likely to be affected by the incident.

The classes are from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Friday and Saturday through July.

Richard Oliver and Kerry Alt, both assistant professors in the business computer systems program at NMSU, are conducting the training, which was made possible by a $200,000 anti-terrorism grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.

"The software helps (the participants) in preparing for command and control operations such as evacuation planning and some consequence reporting. For example, should the device go active they would have a clearer picture of what the affects would be in a very short period of time," Oliver said.

Participants in the two-day course include New Mexico State Police officers, HAZMAT personnel and Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) personnel.

Senior state patrolman and NMSU alumnus Chris Stimpson was one of about 12 being trained on the software recently.

"It's an excellent tool to have in a major incident when you don't have a lot of time," said Stimpson, an early response officer.

Participants learn to how to enter environmental and device parameters to the software and how to interpret the outputs. After the training is finished, they will use tabletop weapons of mass destruction exercises or scenarios via the Internet to maintain their newly developed skills.

"We are taking great pains to have them work case after case after case so that they learn how to use the software in various conditions, those conditions being weather and location and other items associated with the devices that they might find," Oliver said. "The students are very energetic and enthusiastic about it because they can see a direct need in their jobs."