Hazmat Team Trains For Worst Case Scenario

SPARKS, NV - It's only a training exercise, but its details are as possible as they are frightening.

It's 10 in the morning during the Labor Day Rib Cookoff. Victorian Square is filling up with thousands of customers and vendors.

Local hotels are full, suddenly there's a medical call at one of them. People are complaining of a burning sensation and difficulty breathing.

First responders evacuate the place and transport those in need of medical attention.

That's where we join the story.

Firemen on full breathing apparatus are sent in to the hotel to find the source of the problem. They move deliberately as a team, in constant communication with supervisors outside.

Moving down a second floor corridor, they see smoke at the end of the hallway, but before they get there they report a burning sensation on their necks.

They're pulled out and sent to a decontamination unit outside.

It will take another crew in full body suits to locate the problem.

They will find a meth lab set up in a hotel room filled with toxic fumes.

The setting is the Silver Club's closed hotel. The drug lab, the smoke, the rescues and decontamination are all staged, but this is something that could happen.

"This could happen where someone has checked into a hotel room and set up a drug lab to be able to have easy access to a large crowd to distribute their product," says Capt. Eric Millette of the Sparks Fire Department.

And, if it did, during a major special event like the rib cookoff, it could be a huge problem.

First of all, at this point they wouldn't know the cause of the problem, but there would be an obvious presence of emergency vehicles and personnel just a block from the special event.

"Without even knowing what we have inside right now, having a bunch of equipment staged as we are really draws fear in the public," says Millette. "But we don't know what we have so we can't give the public any information right now.."

Once they found the lab, the problems would mount.

"We would have a big evacuation problem, not just within the hotel structure itself, but the surrounding community. Everyone at this event would have to be evacuated."

And that's why training like this in a real life setting is important.

"It's just that little bit of difference that adds some complexity to the drill. It's dark and most of these people have never been inside this building. So there's a little bit of anxiety for those involved in this drill.":

All of this was staged with the cooperation of the property's owners and the hazmat team is grateful for the opportunity which they say is rare.

This is a call the men and women involved in the drill hope they never have to answer, but if they do this training exercise could make all the difference.

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