Nevada has been awarded federal funding to recruit and train an elite team of 22 highly skilled, full-time National Guard members to serve as the state's Weapons of Mass Destruction Response Team.
The team of Army and Air Guard members, which will take 18 to 24 months to train, will be based in southern Nevada to react quickly to any threat of terrorism involving weapons ranging from biological and chemical agents to radioactive threats.
The state's five-member congressional delegation had sought funding for a WMD Response Team, 32 of which are now trained and operating in other states. Delegation members told the Pentagon the state is home to 18 of the world's largest hotels, and Las Vegas is a highly visible target for terrorists.
April Conway, a spokeswoman for the Nevada National Guard, said the criteria used for determining where the teams would go first included population densities, port and coastal security issues, the location of Department of Defense installations, protection of critical infrastructure and the presence of symbols of national significance.
Nevada's unit will be on call around the clock to respond immediately to any perceived threat. The team, funded by the Department of Defense and under the control of Gov. Kenny Guinn, will have full protective gear and the ability to test suspicious agents or substances quickly on site.
With helicopters, trucks and aircraft available, the team will be able to move quickly to anywhere in Nevada where a threat is identified, Conway said.
The guard members chosen for this team will receive more than 800 hours training with the National Fire Academy, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.