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PEP May 2006
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Public Employee Press

Training for terror attacks
DC 37 first responders play critical role in ­Operation Trifecta training exercise


Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics from Local 2507 joined some 1,500 first responders for Operation Trifecta on March 26 in the Maspeth section of Queens. The Local 2507 members carried air tanks on their backs weighing 50 pounds and were part of the recovery phase of the
training drill.

By ALFREDO ALVARADO

A powerful simulated terrorist bomb exploded March 26 and transformed a neighborhood rail yard in the usually desolate, industrial neighborhood of Maspeth, Queens, into a nightmarish disaster site strewn with corpses and screaming victims.

The 1,500 first responders who participated in the four-hour field exercise included Police and Fire department personnel and members of three DC 37 locals.

In the mock attack, an imitation bomb blew up a freight train loaded with highly toxic materials just as it passed a commuter train filled with passengers traveling in the opposite direction.

The March 26 training exercise was named Operation Trifecta because it emphasized three phases: search and rescue, victim identification and fatality management.


Members of Health Services Employees Local 768 who work in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner were responsible for the recovery of victims.



The Dept. of Environmental Protection HazMat team, who are members of Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375, checked for radiation and particpated in the recovery and identification of victims.



Darryl Ramsey, president of Local 768, left, with Shop Steward Jules Lisner, who was responsible for evaluating part of the training session.

The DC 37 forces involved included ambulance crews in Uniformed EMTs and Paramedics Local 2507; Medical Legal Investigators from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, who are represented by Health Services Employees Local 768; Dept. of Environmental Protection HazMat workers in Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375.

The HazMat team evaluated the chemical hazards and checked the injured, the dead and the site for radiation. The EMTs and Paramedics searched for and rescued the victims, while members of Local 768 participated in victim identification and fatality management.

Several members of Local 768 were also involved with the Office of Emergency Management in the initial planning and preparation for Operation Trifecta, which took eight months to organize and was funded with $700,000 from the federal Dept. of Homeland Security.

The exercise was coordinated by several agencies, including OEM, OCME and the Police, Fire and Environmental Protection departments. The New York & Atlantic Railway provided the freight train for the exercise and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority supplied a Long Island Rail Road passenger train.

Sharpshooters from law enforcement agencies were armed with high-powered rifles as they stood guard on warehouse rooftops overlooking the site.

Volunteer victims from several city agencies lay scattered on the ground near the trains, covered in fake blood and bearing tags indicating their pretend injuries as they cried out for help.

Members perform well

Exposed to arsenic trichloride, a highly toxic liquid compound, Local 2507’s EMTs and Paramedics donned head-to-toe protective HazMat suits and lugged air tanks weighing 50 pounds on their backs as they swiftly moved in to rescue the bloodied victims. They carried the ­injured to a decontamination area where a makeshift shower washed away the toxic materials.

The Medical Legal Investigators from Local 768, who have received extensive training on dealing with chemical and biological weapons such as anthrax at workshops around the country, were responsible for decontaminating the victims, identifying the bodies, and working in the temporary morgue.

Julius Lisner, a Local 768 Shop Steward from the Medical Legal Investigation Unit, was responsible for evaluating part of the exercise. “Our members performed extremely well and above the standard for this exercise,” he said.


Union members from the OCME prepare to participate in rescue mission. Every opening in HazMat gear has to be sealed tight to prevent exposure.

“This operation demonstrates without a doubt that we’re more than capable of handling any crisis of this magnitude,” said union member Frank DePaolo, OCME’s assistant director for disaster preparedness. Dennis ­Cavalli, also a Local 768 member, was part of the Special Operations Team for Operation Trifecta.

Last April, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg signed an ­executive order to draft a protocol that would govern how several city agencies would respond during a major emergency. Operation Trifecta was the first major test of the new Citywide Incident Management System. Trifecta was the third terrorist attack drill the city has staged since Sept. 11. It follows one at Shea Stadium in March 2004 and another at the Bowling Green train station in Lower Manhattan in May 2004.

“This was an eye opening experience,” said Local 768 President Darryl Ramsey at the Maspeth site. “I really felt the impact of how serious this situation could be. Our members out here did an incredible job. This is a special group of individuals.”

 

 

 


 

 
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