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Disaster Exercise Planned for Columbia, Mo.

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – While first responders testify before the 9/11 Commission in New York this week, a Missouri emergency medical team is preparing for a large scale disaster exercise.

The 130 members of the Missouri One Disaster Medical Assistance Team will join thousands of first responders in a scenario involving several simultaneous terrorist attacks.

"Missouri One" is based in St. Louis County.

The event happens just days after two U.S. soldiers in Iraq were slightly injured by a roadside bomb believed to contain sarin nerve gas.

The team's John Huff says biological warfare will be part of the exercise.

"All of the national disaster medical system has really been gearing up for any kind of attacks that might happen," Huff said Tuesday. "Those types of attacks are some of the things that we'll be going over in this scenario."

The three-day exercise begins Thursday in Columbia, Missouri.

Police and fire crews in New York City are testifying before the 9/11 Commission this week that they had trouble communicating via hand-held radios. Huff says his unit is addressing that issue.

"We have radio equipment that we can talk on almost anyone's frequency. So if we go into an area and it's a different radio frequency than in another area, we have programmable equipment."

Huff and other Missouri team members assisted in the relief effort in New York shortly after September 11.