First responders conducted a major training exercise Friday at the Missouri Capitol after months of planning.

Officials with the Missouri Department of Public Safety said they first started talking about the exercise in January as part of a long-term effort to increase coordination between multiple agencies in the event of a real emergency.

The scenario: A suspicious package was dropped off at the mailroom of the Capitol and discovered by employees.

In addition to the response, decontamination and identification of the substance were part of the exercise, with four actors walking through what would happen in the decontamination process.

There were no evacuations or simulated injuries in this scenario, but there were some restrictions in areas around the Capitol.

Agencies that participated include Missouri Capitol Police, the Jefferson City Police Department, the Cole County Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol, Missouri National Guard 7th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, Cole County Emergency Management, Cole County Emergency Medical Services, the Cole County Emergency Response Team, the State Emergency Management Agency, DPS and the FBI.

The Jefferson City Fire Department had several personnel and apparatus involved in Friday’s exercise. As one of the first groups that would be called in to respond for such an emergency, it was vital for their personnel to get as much training as possible, Division Chief Jason Turner said.

“We brought in additional people so while we did the exercise, we could continue to provide regular service for the rest of the city,” Turner said. “We want to make sure we can work with the other agencies that we would be responding with if such an event like this were to occur.”

Turner said being able to train on a scenario in a facility they could potentially have to respond to is rare, and it was an opportunity they wanted to take full advantage of.

After Friday’s exercise, DPS officials said there would be an evaluation of how things worked to determine where additional training would be needed.

By Jeff Haldiman | News Tribune