by Staff Sgt. Vanessa Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
7/23/2010 - PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago (AFNS) -- A joint medical team concluded a week-long disaster planning and mass casualty response course alongside Trinidadian officials with a counter terrorism exercise here July 23.
Since the training was funded by officials from the Counter-Terrorism Fellowship Program, the team of instructors with the Defense Institute of Medical Operations drafted a terrorist-attack scenario that required local, regional and national officials to test their disaster plans and mass casualty response.
"During this scenario, a fictitious activist group bombed a ship that released a hazardous chemical that threatened the population of Port of Spain," said Col. John Cinco, the DIMO medical director. "We made it a complex issue by simulating a second bomb explosion in a public mall, which required a second response, and triggered the involvement of the national level disaster managers."
Officials from law enforcement, fire rescue, explosive ordnance, medical and emergency services all played a part in the simulated rescue, evacuation, and prevention of civil unrest and panic during the exercise.
As part of the scenario, Wayne Dick, the acting senior superintendent of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, was assigned to the regional level of response at the emergency operations center.
"Everybody understood their role, and while we did well, we could still identify that there was need for an improvement in each organization," he said. "We've done well because we've just been sensitized during the week, but had we not been sensitized and a situation occurred, then just judging what happened today, one can imagine what would have occurred."
During the exercise, many levels of management came into play, including public information management, risk management and miscommunication management, Colonel Cinco said.
"I think they pulled it off quite well," Colonel Cinco said. "They did an excellent job with up and down communication. Hopefully they take whatever lessons they learned today and incorporate it into their local disaster management plans."
The discussion throughout the week and the exercise has helped each organization share their rules and improved communication between the agencies, Mr. Dick said.
"Now that I have (a better understanding of all the people involved), I can go back to my department and share it," he said. And likewise, the other persons here can do the same, so because of the (better) communication here, we understand much more the rules of others. We also have a better appreciation of each others rules in the event of a disaster."