BEIRUT: Lebanon’s military and security forces, medical and relief workers took part in a major exercise to test the country’s ability to respond to a chemical, biological or radiological attack.
The simulated exercise, described as the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever to take place in the country, was staged in the southern Lebanese town of Kfarfalous, and involved 932 members from the army and other security services, hospitals, civil defense, ambulance, fire, relief agencies and NGOs.
“With the beginning of the Syrian crisis and the rumors of the use of chemical weapons, the Lebanese Ministry of Health in 2012-2013 began intensive training for hospitals on ways to deal with possible chemical injuries,” said Lebanese Health Minister Jamil Jabak.
The exercise was the culmination of months of training conducted under the auspices of the country’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“More than 62 million people in the world have been injured by the use of deadly weapons,” said Iman Shankiti, WHO representative in Lebanon. “The WHO’s work is to carry out activities aimed at preparing for all dangers, and its role is to train teams of health workers in all Lebanese governorates.”
Jabak added: “After Lebanon signed the International Health Regulations for 2010, the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the WHO, began work on a health plan to combat biological, chemical and radiological threats.
“In 2015, the Ministry of Health began to develop a core of medical teams to combat biological and radiological threats in all Lebanese regions, with more than 230 emergency doctors and nurses trained in government and private hospitals, the military health system, civil defense, the Red Cross, and NGOs.
“In February, the ministry continued its training in the south and Nabatieh governorates, with more than 150 people trained. It has concluded with this exercise involving all trained teams, the first of its kind in Lebanon.”
Around 300 civilians participated in the role of casualties from a town hit by a chemical attack. Medics, dressed in protective gear and chemical masks, dealt with the injured according to their severity of their condition.
More than 200 employees in 80 hospitals were trained, including doctors and nurses, and provided with equipment to prevent contamination.
An official in the internal security forces told Arab News: “The security services carry out routine training on how to deal with disasters. These disasters need preparing for and there are no real threats to Lebanon to carry out such exercises.
“The security services in Lebanon are receiving continuous training in this regard in accordance with international police standards.”