Saturday, May 03, 2014

Practicing Against Terrorism, Just In Case...

Around 10:00 p.m., Thursday night, May 1st - shortly after South Coast Plaza closed - more than 250 public safety members from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, local police jurisdictions and fire personnel participated in a multi-agency emergency response exercise at that venue.
According to the press release issued by the Costa Mesa Police Department, the exercise involved a hypothetical terrorist-type attack scenario at South Coast Plaza - the second largest, highest-grossing shopping center in the country.  The FBI oversaw the event, partnering with local law enforcement, fire, emergency medical services and the private sector in the execution of the training exercise.

This exercise provided an opportunity for the various agencies involved to demonstrate their ability to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" with each other in an effective, coordinated response.  According to the press release, this involved cooperative planning by a unified command staff, as well as collaboration amongst involved police S.W.A.T. and Fire rescue teams from different agencies.  Participating agencies managed various threat and rescue scenarios during the exercise.

The overarching goal of the exercise was to rehearse mutual agency preparedness, and response and recovery efforts to effectively address a complex attack scenario.  The exercise lasted into the early morning hours of Friday, May 2nd and provided a practical venue for individual agencies to assess best practices as well as areas for improvement.

Personnel from the following agencies participated in this massive drill:
  • Costa Mesa Police Department
  • Costa Mesa Fire Department
  • Newport Beach Police Department
  • Orange County Sheriff's Department
  • Orange County Fire Authority
  • Irvine Police Department
  • Huntington Beach Police Department
  • South Coast Plaza
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
Simultaneously, as similar joint training exercise was conducted  in Mission Viejo, at the Shops at Mission Viejo.  Command Staff at both locations coordinated with a unified command staff overseeing planning from a remote location in Orange.

I'm grateful to those agencies involved for working together to prepare for such a scenario.  We live in a troubled world, so these kind of exercises are, unfortunately, necessary.

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Blogger valan2 said...

You're right, Geoff, these are important exercises, and I have confidence in our safety personnel and their ability to respond appropriately.

Also important are training exercises for non-sworn City staff. These are the people who, in the event of a disaster such as a major earthquake, coordinate and respond to such needs as road closure and clearing, building and other safety inspections, procurement of heavy equipment, temporary housing, food and medical care for those injured and/or displaced.

They also are required to account for disaster recovery costs, so the City can be reimbursed by state or federal disaster funds. BUT, the City is only eligible for cost recovery - which can run into the millions of dollars - if they maintain records of regular training sessions and exercises for these people. It is my understanding that the City has not done so in recent years.

Might this deficiency have anything to do with the fact that City staff formerly responsible for this training left the City and were not replaced? Is the City trying to save pennies now in exchange for the possible loss of many dollars in the future?

In addition to the possible financial implications, we run the risk of not having properly trained personnel to respond to disaster response and recovery needs.

5/05/2014 08:15:00 PM  

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