Mock bombing drill held at National Guard base

WHEELING – A mock bombing scenario Thursday morning at the West Virginia National Guard base in Ohio County was similar to drills that occurred at 10 other bases across the state.

Wheeling-Ohio County Emergency Management Director Lou Vargo said the scenario involved a bomb detonating at the base, injuring three guardsmen. In the end, one of the guardsmen also acted like the mock bomber who was apprehended with the help of a trained police dog.

Medics from Brooke County and West Liberty fire departments responded to care for the wounded. The Ohio County Sheriff’s Department Special Response Team was tasked with searching the base for more undetonated bombs.

Vargo said before entering the base, the SRT was shown photos of its exterior and floor plans via the county’s Unified Command Center. That vehicle, along with ambulances and fire trucks, were parked at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport.

“It’s a learning experience. There are a lot of moving parts,” said Lt. Joseph Booth, base facility commander.

West Liberty Fire Chief Bill Cox said this is the first time his crew and Brooke County’s medics and firefighters have trained in a bombing scenario at the base. In the past, they have trained at the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport in drills related to the base’s Black Hawk helicopters.

“We’re learning as we go. … This is a good experience,” Cox said. “We’re walking through this now. If we actually have an incident, we’ll know what channels to use, the capacity of the hospitals and the local responders.”

The West Virginia National Guard base is home to the 150th Aviation Battalion.