Terrorists have blown up a New Jersey tunnel with a bomb, trapping victims under cars and overturned buses -- but fortunately, this is only one of the made up scenarios in today’s disaster drill in Newark.
The exercise prepares the Metro Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) Strike Team -- firefighters from nine different New Jersey municipalities -- to work together in case of catastrophic events like terrorist attacks and natural disasters.
“No one knows where or when natural disasters, fires, accidents, or terrorists may strike,” said Newark Mayor Cory Booker. “I am proud of how our Fire Department has pro-actively partnered with other emergency response organizations for the second straight year to conduct this important drill. By coming together to share services we will define excellence in time of crisis by responding as a unified team.”
The scenario presented to the firefighters is that terrorists have detonated an improvised explosive device (IED) in a mock “Metro Tunnel” during rush hour. During the drill, firefighters cleared debris to locate victims, and then drilled through obstructions to perform rescue operations.
“Fifteen years ago, in Oklahoma City, a lone terrorist showed the amount of death, damage, and devastation that can be achieved with a small amount of explosives, carried out with minimal thought, planning, and money,” Fire Chief Michael Lalor said. “We cannot forget that tragedy, and the finest honor we, as emergency responders, can render to the victims of that horror is to unite, plan, and drill, so that we can be prepared to address any potential future acts of terrorism.”
For each of the last five years, the Metro USAR Strike Team has held an annual mandatory drill to sharpen the agencies rescue skills. It was created in response to 9/11 in order to unite emergency response agencies by region.