Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Terror tactics tackled in drill

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[IMAGE] Richard Hunt, 17, of Glendale, a student in the firefighting program at Scarlet Oaks Vocational School, is a "victim" during a drill Tuesday.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
The explosions and injuries weren't real. But the lessons learned in dealing with terrorism were.

In a mock disaster Tuesday, representatives from 40 local, state and national law enforcement and transportation agencies pretended terrorists caused explosions in Cincinnati, Kenton County and Anderson Township. The practice run also included a SWAT team finding a gym bag at the downtown bus terminal that included maps with radioactive markings on them.

The workers tended to more than 190 "victims" in three locations and organized how they would respond, which demanded they coordinate everyone from firefighters to hospital workers, FBI agents and National Guard experts on weapons of mass destruction.

The exercise and a previous one this summer were paid for with a $50,000 grant Metro got from the Federal Transit Authority. Metro officials plan to apply for more grants for more drills, said spokeswoman Sallie Hilvers.

Preparation for the drill began several days ago, when participants began getting briefings about things like an epidemic of a flu-like disease in Columbus and problems with thefts at a nuclear facility in northeastern Ohio. Several local schools dismissed students for the day to play victims.

Cincinnati Police Chief Tom Streicher said the drill gave him and other officials the chance to test how well they would juggle staffing a disaster on top of answering the usual calls for help.


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