New York

How Authorities Prepare for Nuclear Blast in NYC Area

If a nuclear blast went off in the New York City metropolitan area, how prepared would emergency responders be?

That's the question local authorities are looking to answer in a multi-agency, multi-day drill at MetLife Stadium in what they're calling the Gotham Shield Exercise for Emergency Medical Services.

The FEMA-led exercise involves federal, state, county and local jurisdictions from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Assuming the epicenter of the blast is in the north Hudson or south Bergen area of New Jersey, the exercise challenged responders to work with each other and respond to the theoretical mass casualty event at MetLife Stadium where thousands would be triaged. 

The exercise assumed virtually everyone within a 10-mile radius of the explosion site would die, though not right away, according to a law enforcement source involved in the drill: 40,000 people would die on the first day, and then many more would die in subsequent days. 

There were no real people posing as patients -- the agencies simply exercised their plans, procedures and equipment as if there were thousands at the stadium. 

The Morris County Office of Emergency Management, one of the agencies participating in the drill, said Tuesday, "We pride ourselves on our capability to respond to the worst-case scenario, and today's exercise provided a framework for dealing with the type of event we hope to never experience." 

At Teanecks Holy Name Medical Center, staff were drilling on Tuesday. 

"We got to practice donning and doffing the protective gear, and using the equipment and actually setting up tents," said Emergency Room Director Dr. Richard Schwab. "It was really valuable." 

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