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Training in Anaheim for terrorist attack prepares first responders for real trouble

Dispatchers participating in a training exercise Tuesday evening, Oct. 5, described a nightmare scenario over the radio:

Five armed suspects had boarded a crowded Metrolink train in Norwalk that just stopped on the platform at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center, near Angel Stadium.

“This is a drill,” they calmly repeat on a channel shared by police, sheriff’s deputies and firefighters from Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Minutes later, a man with a rifle emerged from the front car of the train. Bright muzzle flashes strobed across the dimly lit platform as he took aim and fired training rounds at Anaheim, Santa Ana and Amtrak police officers, as well as Orange and Los Angeles County deputies responding to the staged terrorist attack.

Over the next three hours, teams from Orange and Los Angeles counties worked together to neutralize the remaining actors posing as gunmen.

They also defused prop explosives, rescued volunteers pretending to be hostages, and performed triage on mock victims covered in fake blood.

The simulated terrorist attack was set up in collaboration with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and designed to push emergency responders to their limits, said Anaheim police Lt. Jon Kirkpatrick, who helped coordinate the exercise.



“We’re mainly looking at the overall success of the operation,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s less about wagging a finger at any individual failings, and more about seeing how well teams were able to communicate with each other to accomplish their objectives.”

It is critical that emergency responders from different agencies build relationships and learn to work in concert with one another ahead of time, Amtrak police Capt. Dario Robinson said.

“There could never be enough connections,” Robinson said. “Having an actual person to contact instead of (just) a number or an email address can make all the difference in an emergency, where every second matters.”

About 70 volunteers and 300 police, deputies, firefighters and paramedics participated in the exercise, Anaheim police Lt. Rich LaRochelle said.

Source: Orange County Register

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