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NYC Terror Response Tested In Attack Drill

AP | March 28 2006

Even when surrounded by the blood and chaos of a chemical attack, emergency responders must be able to identify the threat, help the wounded and establish a temporary morgue.

In an elaborate simulation Sunday, 1,500 emergency workers practiced responding to the explosion of a toxic bomb, working to follow procedure as police recruits covered in fake blood cried out in pain.

"I'm happy and I'm actually a little surprised that it worked as well as it did," said Joseph F. Bruno, the commissioner of emergency management.

The drill, dubbed Operation Trifecta, began with a mock explosion at 10 a.m. at a railyard in Maspeth. Rescuers discovered a grim scenario: a chemical-filled bomb had gone off in a freight train as a commuter train passed, leaving 100 people dead or wounded.

Out of necessity, rescue efforts moved slowly at first, Bruno said.

"That's just the way it has to. We do not know if there are other explosive devices here. We do not know the nature of the chemical," said Bruno, adding that once officials had evaluated the danger they made "good, crisp decisions."

Bruno also said the practice run demonstrated the effectiveness of a protocol instituted last year by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The Citywide Incident Management System gives the Police Department overall command of the city's emergency agencies in most major disasters, at least until the possibility of terrorism has been ruled out.

"The level of cooperation was terrific," said Frank P. Cruthers, Fire Department first deputy commissioner.

Nonprofit groups including the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army participated in the $700,000 exercise, which was financed by the federal Department of Homeland Security.





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