Mock disaster prepares response teams for Olympics

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    By Rebecca Ryser

    Usually panic, terror and chaos break out when a bomb explodes near hundreds of spectators and officials.

    But when this happened on Saturday, people were smiling, laughing and standing, organized in single file lines.

    About 200 volunteers, policemen, firemen, FBI agents and Red Cross representatives met outside The Peaks Ice Arena for a simulated bomb explosion to test the emergency response preparedness for the 2002 Olympics.

    Volunteers, acting as spectators during the Olympics, met Monday, Sept. 23, at 8:30 a.m. when a simulated bomb exploded, emitting some kind of oily biological substance, said Mike Tullis, Springville Community Emergency Response Team volunteer.

    Victims received a blue card diagnosing them with various physical and mental problems and symptoms occurring as a result of the bomb.

    Makeup was applied to those with visible symptoms to make the situations as real as possible.

    Tullis” lips were even painted blue to illustrate his “cold” symptom.

    Another volunteer had glass shards protruding from his forehead.

    Four workers, dressed in blue radioactive suits and orange, rubbery shoes, carried him to a decontamination trailer.

    The other volunteers were led outside, where they stood in lines waiting to be stripped of their “contaminated” clothing down to their bathing suits.

    They were then taken to an emergency trailer, where people in radioactive protection suits scrubbed them down with water and a “decontaminating” substance.

    After victims were “decontaminated” and assessed for their symptoms, some were taken to a care tent, while other volunteers, including Patrick Fenn, 34, student of the Utah Valley State College fire rescue academy, were taken to the hospital for treatment.

    The purpose of the care tent was to get those who had been decontaminated away from the scene until they could be evacuated, said Dave Gunn, director of the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

    The simulation was testing the response of the multiple agencies involved, Stuart said.

    “The problem for a lot of people that don”t routinely do this kind of thing, is they don”t understand the complexity and the interrelationships that are required to make these things successful,” he said.

    Such an event at the Games would likely be the result of terrorist groups.

    “Terrorists by their nature don”t give us much warning,” Stuart said. “They”re always trying to inflict as much injury and damage as they can to get the biggest write up and to put fear and panic into people”s hearts. The biggest thing is to put enough panic into our hearts, to neutralize our day to day life.”

    The attacks on Sept. 11 caused many to take the drill more seriously.

    “We have always been choosing worst case scenarios, preparing for the worst, but now we see that anything can happen,” said Karen Mayne, Provo City Police Departmetn public information officer.

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