Homeland Security Network Blog
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Simulated terror attack on bay tests local emergency response
By Filipa Ioannou
Firefighters, medics and FBI agents swarmed a normally quiet stretch of the Alameda waterfront next to the USS Hornet Museum on Wednesday morning, maneuvering around people lying on the ground as an ominous orange smoke filled the air and brightly colored emergency vehicles crowded the road.
The alarming scene was part of a two-day exercise called “Operation Seasick” — six months in the making and organized by the FBI — to practice how local, state and federal law-enforcement agencies and emergency responders would work together in the event of a complex terror attack involving weapons of mass destruction in an area like the Port of Oakland.
The simulation scenario was this: A terrorist deployed a chemical weapon using a dispersal device, shot several people from atop one of the ships at port, then barricaded himself inside the ship.
“Shooting victims” painted with red makeup to imitate blood and gore demanded attention from paramedics, but responders needed to deal with the chemical weapon before getting to them. A SWAT team contained the shooter to one area of the ship where he had barricaded himself.
The second day of the simulation will be held Friday and focus on the investigation stage of the incident, including recovering evidence from the water, FBI officials said.
Maritime environments like ports can add challenging variables for law-enforcement agents responding to a crisis, according to the FBI.
“The reason the bay is difficult is it’s a fast-moving, ever-changing environment,” said Katherine Zackel, an FBI spokeswoman.