The first of a series of mock disaster drills -- designed to test the effectiveness of New York City's emergency response -- took place in Brooklyn on Sunday. The drills included hundreds of first responders.
The scene was chaos with dozens of victims "injured" and emergency crews responding as fast as they could at a mock drill on Sunday at a Pier at 39th Street in Brooklyn.
John Odermatt, Office of Emergency Management: "Today's exercise is a simulation of a crew ship arrival in New York City...at a Pier...simulating the release of a weapons of mass destruction...in which case it has been identified and located as Saran."
The five hour drill called Operation Winter Sun was designed to test the city's response to a weapons of mass destruction attack.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, (R) New York: "Conducting this drill allows us to take preparedness out of the classroom and into a public setting. It gives us an opportunity to evaluate emergency management procedures, the use of newly-issued anti-terrorism equipment, and how responders -- including local hospitals -- deal with a terrorist threat while minimizing risk to themselves and others."
It had been five years since a drill of this magnitude has been conducted here in New York City. During the field exercise, the victims simulated the ill effects of a biological attack. They were treated and decontaminated. Twelve "died" and 163 other were "injured." The drill also tested the communication skills of the agencies involved. More than 300 agencies -- including NYPD, FDNY, and Homeland Security -- took part in the exercise. This is the first of four drills that will be conducted throughout the city this year.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, (R) New York: "We let our guard down before...we will not let our guard down again."
Similar bio-terrorism drills took place in Chicago and Seattle last week. The Department of Homeland Security sponsored the $16-million-drills.