Weapons of Mass Destruction Summit Aims to Prepare California’s First Responders


Working to prepare California’s first responders for any scenario, Cal OES and the FBI brought together agencies from across the state for a very unique training opportunity – the Weapons of Mass Destruction Summit.


“We like to train as hard as we can, so I’ve taken as much reality as I can based on my 25-plus years of training and given it to this scenario,” said Sheldon Fung, Assistant Chief Law Branch for Cal OES. “These are very difficult scenarios that include radiation, includes bio toxins, it includes high explosives that they’re just not going to see in any one place, typically.”


The scenarios, which include hazmat situations, working drug labs, and IEDs, do not represent routine emergencies. Participants are training for something even bigger.


“This is a major disaster that’s going to affect not only California, but nationwide,” said Brian S. Marshall, State Fire and Rescue Chief for Cal OES. “Firefighters, law enforcement officers, the federal agencies all have to be on the same page.”


They have to be trained. They have to know how to respond.” 


In all disasters, whether it be earthquakes, wildfires, or weapons of mass destruction, Cal OES brings these agencies together.


“The opportunity for all of these teams to come together throughout the entire state of California is so important,” said Kara Zinc, Weapons of Mass Destruction Coordinator at the FBI San Diego Field Office. “In the event of a WMD and or threat, you don’t want to be meeting those partners for the first time on scene.”


The hope is that participants learn what they need to do in this scenario, but also start building relationships and thinking about how they would not only respond to it, but also recover from it. And it’s not something any one agency can take care of themselves. 


“We are trying to prepare as best we can for any type of event that’s coming,” Fung said. “We want to make sure that California is well prepared for any event that could happen.”