1. #1
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    Post Put it to the test!

    By MATT APUZZO
    Associated Press Writer
    HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The massive Homeland Security plans
    created in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks will be put to
    their first test next week during simulated attacks in Connecticut
    and New Jersey.
    The National Response Plan and the National Incident Management
    System were created to bring dozens of federal and state agencies
    under one leadership umbrella in case of a terrorist attack.
    "We hope we've worked out the glitches," said Col. Robert B.
    Stephan, special assistant to Homeland Security Secretary Michael
    Chertoff on Tuesday. "We test drove some of the concepts before we
    gave them the green light, but on a smaller scale and never all put
    together before."
    The exercise, the world's largest-ever terrorism drill, will
    begin Monday with a simulated biological weapons attack in New
    Jersey that overwhelms local hospitals with volunteer victims.
    Meanwhile, a simulated maritime chemical weapon attack in New
    London will expose more volunteer victims. The drill will also
    involve agencies in the United Kingdom and Canada.
    To avoid panic, rescue crews would not use their flashing lights
    and residents were being alerted about the drill, Gov. M. Jodi Rell
    said.
    Investigators have been picking up simulated "chatter" for the
    past few days. Officials received a mock report Tuesday that a pair
    of night-vision goggles had been stolen.
    The National Response Plan took two years to create and was
    approved in January. It gives local rescue workers and firefighters
    control over the scene, with federal agencies stepping in after
    resources are exhausted.
    "I want to see if the plan works," said Coast Guard Capt.
    Peter Boynton, who is based in New Haven. "It'd be a little
    bittersweet if it turns out parts of our plan aren't right. Nobody
    likes to find out, 'Hey, this wasn't good. That wasn't good.' But
    in the larger perspective, that's helpful."
    Mike Wolf, FBI special agent in charge of Connecticut, said he
    wants to see how his agents communicate with other federal
    agencies. "Communication is the big thing," he said.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post Today's the Day

    TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - Health and law enforcement officials will
    show up for work on Monday morning knowing something big is about
    to happen, but unsure of exactly what.
    By the time most of the state is settling in to begin the work
    week, these officials will begin participating in the largest
    counterterrorism drill ever held in the United States.
    Named "TOPOFF 3" for the top-level state and national
    officials behind it, the drill will simulate a bioterror attack in
    Union County, the ripples of which will quickly spread to Middlesex
    County and beyond.
    At the same time, the $16 million exercise also will simulate an
    attack involving fake chemical weapons in New London, Conn.
    The drills will be monitored by top U.S. Homeland Security
    officials from a command center in Washington, as well as regional
    centers in New Jersey and Connecticut.
    Although no real weapons or bio-agents will be used, officials
    will respond as if it's the real thing: flooding the area with
    investigators and first responders in haz-mat suits, dispatching
    fleets of ambulances to hospitals across the state, and dealing
    with throngs of "victims" piling up outside emergency rooms.
    Acting Gov. Richard J. Codey stressed that the exercise should
    not alarm the public, invoking the panic touched off by Orson
    Wells' 1938 "War Of The Worlds" broadcast of a fake Martian
    invasion in Grovers Mill, N.J. among people who didn't realize it
    wasn't real.
    Even the state's health commissioner, Fred M. Jacobs, is playing
    along but dealing with the drill as he would if a real attack
    happened.
    "I'm going to go to work Monday morning like it's any other
    Monday morning, and then we're going to be hit with this scenario
    that's known to the planners but not the players," he said.
    The exact biological agent to be used in the fake attack will
    not be announced in advance; investigators responding to the
    incident scene- the campus of Kean University in Union - will have
    to identify the substances once they get there, just as they would
    have to do in real life.
    From there, they'll have to take appropriate steps including
    sealing off the immediate area, getting those exposed or already
    ill to hospitals, and preserving evidence necessary to determine
    who dispersed the deadly substance.
    On Tuesday and Wednesday, the drill will shift to local
    hospitals, where hundreds if not thousands of mock "patients"
    will show up in various degrees of medical crisis. Some will be
    treated in emergency rooms and admitted; others might undergo
    triage and outdoor decontamination in parking lots, depending on
    what officials deem appropriate for the situation.
    Officials won't be happy unless things go badly wrong.
    "We will intentionally stress our emergency response systems to
    the point of failure so we can repair them," said Matt Mayer,
    acting executive director of the U.S. Department of Homeland
    Security's Office of State and Local Government Coordination and
    Preparedness.
    "This is not an opportunity to say how great we are," added
    state Attorney General Peter C. Harvey. "It's an opportunity to
    find fractures in our system, stress points in our system that
    don't work so well."
    In New Jersey, all 21 counties and 82 hospitals have roles to
    play, as do state police, hazardous materials teams, emergency
    management personnel, and police, fire and emergency
    first-responders, such as emergency room staff.
    A virtual television news network will help officials test how
    they would get information to the public during a crisis.
    Mock attacks two years ago simulated a dirty bomb explosion in
    Seattle and a bioterror attack in Chicago. They uncovered
    communication problems and confusion among emergency responders,
    and shortages in medical supplies and hospital rooms.
    All told, more than 10,000 people will participate in this
    week's drill, including exercises that will involve officials in
    Canada and England as well as the United States.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post

    By WAYNE PARRY
    Associated Press Writer
    HILLSIDE, N.J. (AP) - The largest anti-terror drill ever
    undertaken in the United States started Monday, with officials
    investigating a fake biological attack in New Jersey and responding
    to a mock chemical explosion in Connecticut.
    Named "TOPOFF 3" for top state and national officials, the $16
    million, weeklong drill simulates attacks and gauges how quickly
    emergency personnel can respond. New Jersey's mock attack started
    with a report of a car accident about 9 a.m., during which
    officials became suspicious about a black sport utility vehicle's
    faulty registration. A hose nozzle sticking out a rear window
    further raised cautions, and when officers took a closer look, they
    found a commercial sprayer that presumably had been used to
    disperse a fake biological agent.
    "What seems to have been a typically innocuous event will have
    growing ramifications. It is going to end up testing our health and
    law enforcement systems throughout the state of New Jersey," said
    Roger Shatzkin, a spokesman for the state's Office of
    Counterterrorism. "It's exciting to finally get this underway."
    Officials in both states said their responses to the fake
    attacks were going well.
    In Connecticut, federal officials shortly before 1:30 p.m.
    staged a mock chemical weapons explosion on the New London
    waterfront, prompting homeland security officials to open an
    emergency command post at the state Armory. Homeland security
    officials were planning to go to New London to survey the simulated
    damage, where buses were overturned and volunteers were playing
    victims exposed to chemical attack.
    Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell participated in a conference call
    with U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, declared a
    state of emergency and raised her state's threat level to orange.
    Her commissioners huddled in a glass conference room dubbed
    "the fish bowl" as top aides shuttled updates in and out of the
    room. Representatives from all state agencies worked the phones as
    a virtual news broadcast kept officials update.
    The drills are being monitored by top U.S. Homeland Security
    officials from a command center near Washington, as well as
    regional centers in New Jersey and Connecticut.
    At an afternoon briefing for reporters, acting Gov. Richard J.
    Codey said things had been going smoothly in the first four hours
    after the drill started - a time that would be expected to be among
    the most chaotic in a real emergency.
    "Everything seems to be working well so far, both medically and
    law enforcement," he said. "Nothing's breaking down so far."
    Connecticut officials said information on the mock accident
    there was being handled correctly there.
    "It definitely feels real. I'm impressed with the way everyone
    is doing," said James Thomas, commissioner of the Department of
    Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
    Although no real weapons or bio-agents are being used, officials
    in New Jersey responded as if it were the real thing: flooding the
    area with investigators and first responders in haz-mat suits and
    dispatching fleets of ambulances to hospitals across the state.
    They even rolled a bomb-squad robot with a mounted video camera to
    the targeted SUV to let officials peer inside from a "safe"
    distance.
    Meanwhile, doctors were expected to try to connect the incident
    to a fake patient who had been admitted to a hospital Sunday night
    with "flu-like symptoms."
    "It's a test of how well people are communicating with each
    other and whether the right people are getting pulled into this
    exercise," Shatzkin said.
    Some "victims" headed to emergency rooms Monday and, by
    mid-day, New Jersey health officials were zeroing in on pneumonic
    plague as the likely fake biological agent being used in the
    simulation, said state Health Commissioner Fred Jacobs. The real
    plague is spread through the air on moisture droplets and its
    fatality rate approaches 100 percent if left untreated, he said.
    But it also is easily treated with common antibiotics, he said.
    The focus of the New Jersey drill is to shift to hospitals on
    Tuesday, with more and more "victims" seeking help.
    In the federal command center, located in a suburban Virginia
    hotel ballroom, more than 100 officials hunched over laptops and
    picked up blinking phones as the test attacks began.
    Enlarged photographs of the Connecticut site and its
    surroundings were plastered on the wall in one corner of the
    center. In another, officials began plotting possible responses to
    the fake outbreak in New Jersey, anticipating its spread outside
    state and national borders.
    Chertoff said the exercise - which is mandated by Congress -
    would push response systems to the point of failure to identify any
    security weaknesses or gaps.
    "I want to make it clear that we are going to push our plans
    and our systems to the very limit," Chertoff told reporters Monday
    morning after touring the command center. "So we expect failure
    because we're actually going to be seeking to push to failure, and
    that is, in our judgment, the best way to get a 'lessons learned'
    from what we do here."
    ---
    Associated Press writers Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington and
    Matt Apuzzo in Hartford, Conn., contributed to this story.
    ---
    On the Net:

    http://www.dhs.gov/dhspublic/interap...orial-0588.xml

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Post

    NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) - A simulated chemical weapons attack in
    eastern Connecticut revealed some gaps in the state's emergency
    communications system, but homeland security officials gave the
    state high overall marks for its response.
    The events, part of the world's largest-ever terrorism drill,
    included an explosion on the New London waterfront and hundreds of
    volunteers playing victims of a suspected mustard gas attack.
    Officials were counting on the drill, called TOPOFF 3, to
    evaluate the response plans developed after the terrorist attacks
    of Sept. 11, 2001.
    "We feel very confident that as we got information in, we got
    it out," said Mike Wolf, Connecticut's top FBI agent, who
    coordinated with officials in New Jersey, Washington, Canada and
    England.
    The drill was expected to last most of the week and involve
    public safety officials from local fire departments up to the U.S.
    Department of Homeland Security. Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I., a
    member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government
    Affairs, was observing the operations in Connecticut.
    The drill in Connecticut followed an early morning simulated
    attack in New Jersey, where a biological agent was supposedly
    released.
    In New London, buses were overturned and volunteers playing
    victims wore gruesome makeup to simulate blisters and bloody scars.
    While people generally applauded the state's ability to share
    information at the highest levels, local officials said a number of
    glitches kept them from getting information quickly.
    "I think it flows from the bottom up pretty well," New London
    City Manager Richard Brown said. "I'm not so sure about from the
    state down."
    He said his emergency crews never received word that Gov. M.
    Jodi Rell had opened an emergency operations center at the state
    armory in Hartford or that she declared a state of emergency.
    He also said a local request for the state to release health
    information about mustard gas got scuttled by the state's
    bureaucracy.
    Firefighters were generally pleased with radio improvements that
    allowed top officials to quickly communicate, but said more people
    needed access to the new technology.
    "We're looking for that kind of thing," said James Thomas,
    commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Management and
    Homeland Security. "It's important that we look at everything we
    know we're going to have some work we need to do."
    Officials said such communication missteps, while important to
    address, are to be expected. They were pleased that many of the
    communication breakdowns seen during the World Trade Center attacks
    were not repeated.
    "You have to accept, with so much going on, that you can't get
    all the information exactly when you want it," said Leonard Boyle,
    the state's public safety commissioner.
    The drill was to continue Tuesday and was expected to last
    through much of the week. After the initial response was
    coordinated, the FBI and state police were expected to take a lead
    role in investigating the attack.
    Rell said Monday evening that she was proud of the state's
    response. Earlier in the day, she met with top commissioners,
    declared a state of emergency and raised the state's alert level to
    orange, or "high."
    Her commissioners huddled in a glass conference room dubbed
    "the fish bowl" at the armory in Hartford as top aides shuttled
    updates in and out of the room. Representatives from all state
    agencies worked the phones as a virtual news broadcast kept
    officials update.
    As part of the drill, Rell briefed volunteers posing as
    reporters at a news conference. She explained that an explosion had
    released a chemical into the air and urged residents to stay inside
    and close their windows.
    "Please understand that we are in control," she said.
    Though the drill felt real to those who participated, there were
    some indications it was just a simulation. As Rell entered the
    briefing room about 2:30, an aide said to her, "This is the fake
    press."
    Then, shortly before 3 p.m., victims started showing up at
    Hartford hospitals, even though that would have been too soon for
    them to arrive. Rell had said ambulances weren't going to the scene
    because of contamination.
    But participants said such glitches only added to the chaotic
    feel that made the drill seem like a real emergency.
    U.S. Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif., chairman of the House
    Homeland Security Committee, toured the mock attack site in New
    London on Monday afternoon and headed to New Jersey later in the
    evening.
    "One of the things that really struck me is how hard everyone
    has to work for an exercise," Cox said. "It's every bit as much
    work as if it were real."
    Cox said he was impressed by the way Connecticut officials
    responded to the mock attack.
    "The level of commitment from the first-responders is
    extraordinary," Cox said. "I don't think we will know for several
    weeks, indeed months, exactly how well we did and where the
    problems are, but I can tell you immediately that the personal
    commitment of every single one of the first responders that I have
    observed and talked to is through the roof. I have no doubt they're
    doing everything they can do."

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    By WAYNE PARRY
    Associated Press Writer
    PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) - Federal Homeland Security Secretary
    Michael Chertoff was scheduled to observe a mock antibiotic
    distribution effort Wednesday as the nation's largest
    anti-terrorism drill entered its third day.
    The secretary, a New Jersey resident and former U.S. attorney in
    Newark, was to watch as emergency workers dispensed fake drugs to
    people including the so-called "worried well" who were not
    exposed to the pneumonic plague bacteria but want or need the
    medication to prevent them from contracting the deadly disease.
    The drill in New Jersey involves a fake bio-terror attack
    launched from a sport utility vehicle with a commercial sprayer. By
    noon on Wednesday, 3,076 "deaths" had been recorded statewide as
    part of the exercise scenario.
    At the same time, Connecticut officials are dealing with a
    simulated chemical weapons attack on the New London waterfront.
    New Jersey officials are setting up drug distribution points,
    including a large one at the Rutgers University Athletic Center,
    which Chertoff will visit with acting Gov. Richard Codey.
    The state's response to the hypothetical attack involves
    isolating victims and those close to them, and distributing
    preventive antibiotics to others to further halt the spread of the
    fast-moving disease.
    "To stop that in its tracks, the first thing is reaching the
    people who are sick," said James Langenbach, an official with the
    state health department who is helping organize New Jersey's
    response as part of the drill. "Then we operate these points of
    distribution to give medicine to help people from getting the
    plague."
    By Friday morning, all 21 of the state's counties will have drug
    distribution points set up as part of the drill, Langenbach said.
    The first day of the weeklong drill that began Monday focused on
    investigating the initial incident when the sport utility vehicle
    with the bacteria sprayer was found abandoned in a parking lot of a
    satellite campus of Kean University in Hillside.
    The second day, Tuesday, focused on the response of hospitals to
    an influx of "sick" and "dying" patients.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    UNION, N.J. (AP) - Problems with communication and hospital
    staffing surfaced Tuesday as the nation's largest anti-terrorism
    drill entered its second day of simulated biological and chemical
    weapons attacks.
    The "death toll" as part of the fictitious exercise in New
    Jersey involving an outbreak of pneumonic plague soared past 3,000
    by midday. At the same time, Connecticut officials were dealing
    with an influx of fake victims from a simulated chemical weapons
    attack on the New London waterfront.
    One of the most crucial decisions made by New Jersey officials
    on Monday as part of the exercise - an order simulating drastic
    travel restrictions within and into Union and Middlesex counties -
    was poorly communicated and did not reach nearly enough of the
    "public" or emergency responders, said state police Lt. Dennis
    McNulty.
    "Decisions were made at the highest levels of government, but
    there are early indications those decisions were not disseminated
    in an appropriate fashion," he said. "There seems to have been
    some disconnect. Rest assured, that will be scrutinized."
    Likewise, officials at Union Hospital, a small 201-bed community
    facility nearest to the site of the simulated plague release, said
    staffing issues quickly cropped up as waves of "victims" showed
    up at four large blue outdoor triage tents set up in the emergency
    room parking lot.
    "We will face the reality of employees who will not want to
    come to work and who will want to stay home with their families. We
    will have to deal with a shortage of beds and we will have to deal
    with traffic in and around the hospital," said Kathryn Coyne, the
    hospital's executive director.
    Fatigue among hospital workers also was becoming a problem.
    "The staff has been doing this for 24 hours now," Coyne said.
    "We have people who hadn't eaten or gone to the bathroom all day
    long."
    In a real emergency, the hospital would have to set up areas for
    large numbers of workers to eat, shower and sleep and would have
    trouble storing a large number of dead bodies, Coyne said.
    By day's end, more than 100 fake patients were expected at the
    hospital; 64 arrived by about 9 a.m. Doctors, nurses and the actors
    all wore white face masks, and each "patient" was given a colored
    toe tag to signify the severity of their condition. Black tags were
    reserved for several patients who were "dead on arrival" and 22
    others were "admitted" to the hospital and given gowns and beds.
    By noon Tuesday, drill participants had counted 3,076 "deaths"
    from the plague in New Jersey, a figure that included fictitious
    "unattended deaths," or people supposedly found dead in their
    homes. The toll could reach 9,000 by week's end, said Roger
    Shatzkin, a spokesman for the state Office of Counterterrorism.
    Exercise planners had victims "traveling" as far away as
    Canada before falling ill, including some on a fictitious cruise
    ship that supposedly left Bayonne with some exposed patients on
    board.
    The $16 million, weeklong drill began Monday with an
    investigation of a black sport utility vehicle suspected of
    releasing an aerosolized form of the deadly bacteria.
    Connecticut officials focused Tuesday morning on recovery and
    investigation from the simulated attack there. Rescue crews and
    dogs sorted through the rubble pile, looking for volunteers playing
    victims and dummies used to represent fatalities. State officials
    discussed how to clean up the partially collapsed building without
    risking additional injuries or contaminating the environment with
    the simulated mustard gas.
    Volunteers posing as grieving family members began arriving at a
    family center Tuesday morning, as FBI and state police
    investigators worked to determine who planned the attack.
    As intelligence agencies attempt to find the culprits of the
    attack in New Jersey, the state's health care system was expected
    to be pushed to the breaking point. Hospitals were to continue to
    be open and operating normally to treat real patients during the
    drill.
    The drills are being monitored by top U.S. Homeland Security
    officials from a command center near Washington, as well as
    regional centers in New Jersey and Connecticut. Homeland Security
    Secretary Michael Chertoff was expected to hold a news conference
    on the exercise Wednesday at Rutgers University in Piscataway.
    Large-scale simulated dispensation of medication is to be the
    focus of Wednesday's drills at various locations.
    ---
    Associated Press writer Matt Apuzzo contributed to this report
    from New Haven, Conn.

    (Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
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