'Dirty bomb' drill

As many as 2,000 people from dozens of local and state agencies, including specialized response teams, took part in Wednesday's Lowcountry Weapons of Mass Destruction Full-Scale Exercise in Moncks Corner. The 12-hour drill tested the region's response to

MONCKS CORNER — Luckily, it was only a simulation.

The drill scenario involved a "dirty bomb" that exploded Wednesday near the Santee Cooper plant. As many as 2,000 people from state and local agencies took part in a complex drill testing the region's response to a terrorist incident.

The 12-hour event, called the Lowcountry Weapons of Mass Destruction Full-Scale Exercise, called upon the help of many different rescue personnel, hospitals and responders in Berkeley, Charleston and Colleton counties.

It's the biggest drill in the last five years, according to Berkeley County Emergency Preparedness Director Tom Smith.

Like a scene from a "Die Hard" movie, dozens of emergency vehicles, including specialized response teams such as Hazmat and COBRA, parked and set up camp outside the Wal-Mart off Reid Hill Road which was the main staging area for the event.

While residents shopping around the area did not seem alarmed by the yellow tape in the parking lot, the teams involved in the simulation took the drill to heart, acting as if everything was as realistic as possible.

"If you don't take it as realistic as possible, then it's all for naught, " said Dan Moon, public information officer for the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department.

"This is good training exercise and a good learning process," Moon said.

Don Wilkins, incident commander for the entire operation, was pleased with how the drill was going.

"But there are always a few rough spots," Wilkins said. "And that's what the drill is for — to figure out what those rough spots are. There is always room for improvement."