A Few Pertinent Questions:
1. When will the "bio-terror
drills" go live?
2. How will police, military and the American people know the difference between "real world" bio-terror and "drilled" bio-terror?
3. Will the video footage of bio-terror drills be used by the government or media for pandemic propaganda purposes at a later date?
Resounding Bio-Terror Drill Themes:
1. A bio-terror attack and
subsequent pandemic is not a matter of "if", but "when".
2. Synchronicity and coordination of ALL local, county, state and federal government emergency agencies is being repeatedly drilled by DHS and FEMA in congruence with COG (Continuity of Government) / Martial Law plans.
Date: April 4-8, 2005
Source: Global Security
Abstract: Top Officials 3 (TOPOFF 3) was the most comprehensive terrorism response exercise ever conducted in the United States. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, TOPOFF 3 was the third exercise in the TOPOFF Exercise Series, a congressionally mandated exercise program. The exercise was designed to strengthen the nation's capacity to prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. Joining the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies in that important effort are the states of Connecticut and New Jersey, as well as two international partners, the United Kingdom and Canada. These countries conducted simultaneous, related exercises.
The TOPOFF 3 Full-Scale Exercise (T3 FSE), which took place from April 4-8, 2005, is the culmination of a two-year cycle of seminars, planning events, and exercises. The exercise involved more than 10,000 participants representing more than 200 federal, state, local, tribal, private sector, and international agencies and organizations, as well as volunteer groups.
In the United States, participants responded to attacks in Connecticut and New Jersey. Simulated terrorist incidents originated in New London, Connecticut (chemical incident) and Union and Middlesex Counties in New Jersey (biological incident). Real weapons were not used, yet the response was mounted as if they had been. Numerous federal departments and agencies actively participated, providing a first opportunity to validate the recently released National Response Plan, and to exercise protocols of the National Incident Management System. As the full international dimensions of the simulated crisis were revealed, related exercises took place in the United Kingdom (ATLANTIC BLUE) and Canada (TRIPLE PLAY). Planners from all three countries have collaborated in the exercise design to achieve shared objectives.
To meet these shared objectives, the T3 FSE focused on four critical areas:
Incident management: To test the full range of existing procedures for domestic incident management of a terrorist event and improve, through practice, top officials' capabilities in affected countries to respond in partnership.
Intelligence/investigation: To test the handling and flow of operational and time-critical intelligence.
Public information: To practice strategic coordination of media relations and public information issues in response to linked terrorist incidents.
Evaluation: To identify lessons learned and promote best practices.
Exercises such as TOPOFF are an important component of national preparedness, helping to build an integrated federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector capability to prevent terrorist attacks on the homeland, and rapidly and effectively respond to and recover from any terrorist attack or major disaster that does occur.
T3 FSE begins as terrorists, planning attacks in the New York and Boston metropolitan areas, suspect their plans are compromised. They react by accelerating their original schedule, deploying a vehicle-based biological agent dispersal device in New Jersey. Seriously ill patients begin to overwhelm local hospitals. As the scenario unfolds, every county in New Jersey will need a Point of Dispensing (POD) for antibiotics. Meanwhile, the chemical weapon attack originally planned for Boston is also accelerated and executed in New London, Connecticut, augmented with a vehicle-based improvised explosive device.
Issues to be addressed include public health and safety, contamination, criminal investigation, and patient care. As the events continue, federal agencies implement the National Response Plan, and international aspects of play emerge.
The TOPOFF 3 Full-Scale Exercise extends the learning derived from earlier TOPOFF exercises and 9-11 in several ways:
Increases international and private sector participation in prevention and investigation.
Emphasizes terrorism prevention - an opportunity to piece together an intelligence puzzle and "capture" the enemy before the attack occurs.
Emphasizes risk communication and public information - participants will explore approaches to public communications in times of high public anxiety and confusion. Focuses on long-term recovery and remediation issues (Global Security, 2005).
Title: Livingston Students Participate In Federal Bioterrorism Drill
Date: April 15, 2005
Source: New Jersey Jewish News
Abstract: If pneumonic plague is ever released in the area surrounding Kean University as part of a bioterrorist attack, 30 students from the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston have a pretty good idea of what to expect. They played victims as part of last-week’s TOPOFF 3, a four-day bioterrorism preparedness exercise run by the United States Department of Homeland Security.
The nation’s largest-ever antiterrorism drill, staged April 4-8 at an estimated cost of $16 million, TOPOFF imagined a simulated bioterror attack that “killed” more than 6,500 people in New Jersey and Connecticut.
The Kushner students were among 120 who participated, including students who came from Seton Hall University, Bloomfield High School, Nutley High School, and Montclair State University.
At the Department of Parks and Recreation in Nutley on April 6, the Kushner students volunteered to play victims and onlookers and were assigned roles; physical conditions were specified before they were sent off to be “treated.” They were among 263 volunteer nurses, physicians, trained emergency personnel, and “actors” from around the county.
During the exercise, pneumonic plague was “released” at Kean in Union from an SUV; the drill posited that it would have traveled to the Nutley area carried by college students who were exposed. “It’s a college student who comes home from Kean, then goes to the Recreation Center where he’s sweating, sneezing. That’s how it gets transferred,” said Nutley Mayor Joanne Cocchiola, speaking with the press outside the exercise area (journalists were not permitted inside the exercise area).
By midday on Wednesday, the “death toll” had reached 2,100, according to Erica Woods, health educator/risk communicator at the Essex Regional Health Commission. The pod at Nutley had run out of the medicine it was dispensing — not a planned part of the drill. That left 30 Kushner students standing around in the parking lot for about an hour, waiting to participate.
Evaluators from the federal government observed the exercise and are expected to issue their report in a few weeks, according to Woods. It is not expected that a full report will be released to the public, she said.
Some Kushner students said they felt things were a bit disorganized. “I really don’t know if they’re really prepared,” said 17-year-old Chayim Cohen of West Orange, who played a 37-year-old male who was exposed to the plague but was asymptomatic. “I was in three lines back and forth and then I waited on line for half an hour, and it didn’t move at all. If this was a real terrorist attack, people would be hysterical. There would be a lot more chaos than there is now, and I don’t know if they would be able to handle it.”
Others had a more positive experience. “I thought it was pretty organized. They did a pretty good job considering the number of kids there and what they had to deal with,” said Jessica Blank, 15, from Livingston. She portrayed a 21-year-old female who not only had been exposed but also had symptoms: she had a fever of 104 and she was coughing up blood. “I thought it was a nice experience because we got to see what would happen in case this, God forbid, actually happened.”
Debbie Rubenstein, 15, of West Orange said she gained insight into what it will take for the state to be ready for a bioterrorist attack. “You could see all the work and preparation that has to be done. And that more and more practice needs to be taken. One practice is good but we need a lot more…. It feels good to know they are actually working on it and trying to be safe.”
The students were recruited by Kushner guidance counselor Rabbi Richard Kirsch, who told NJJN he believes it’s important to get the students involved, volunteering in the community. “It’s a real kiddush hashem [sanctifying God] that we’re doing this. It’s important to show the broader community that we as a Jewish day school care not just about our fellow Jews but about the wider community.”
He said he also believes there is a lesson in participating for the students, beyond learning what to do in the case of a bioterrorist attack. “I explained to the students that it is a civic responsibility. We have to volunteer in these types of situations that benefit humanity.”
Adina Paretzky, 15, of Edison, said she wasn’t sure there was a particular Jewish imperative to participate; rather it was simply a matter of “moral values” to take part in the exercise. “It’s a moral obligation to help out in case of emergency” (New Jersey Jewish News, 2005).