Terrorist simulation helps UTA prepare for the worst

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First-responders arrive on scene to help the victims of the situation. UTA, police and other emergency departments work together to plan and prepare for the worst. (Natalie Bothwell)
First-responders arrive on scene to help the victims of the situation. UTA, police and other emergency departments work together to plan and prepare for the worst. (Natalie Bothwell)

UTA held a terrorist simulation at the Provo and Murray front runner stations Wednesday, May 11. The drill included a fake detonated bomb with debris and actors staged as passengers, scattered in an array of confusion and chaos along the floor of the train car. Police, fire, EMT and FBI were on the scene to practice removing victims from the mimicked danger.

Although this was a drill, those involved took it very seriously.

“This is to test them (the first-responders), so if we make this as real as possible, it will help,” said Shalae M DeJarnatt, a retired cop of 23-years and current Medical Reserve Coordinator for Salt Lake County. “You practice it how you’re going to perform, so it’s important that these guys take it seriously. We can always prepare more … the more exercises like this, the better off we’ll be.”

Amy Cornell-Titcomb and UTA took nine months to plan and coordinate this simulation. (Natalie Bothwell)
Amy Cornell-Titcomb and UTA took nine months to plan and coordinate this simulation. (Natalie Bothwell)

A large number of volunteer first responders, as well as American Leadership Academy students and other members of the community, came to the simulation to help UTA passengers know what to expect if the worst should occur.

“(These preparations) make me chill out a little more and feel a lot safer,” said Jerick Rose, a volunteer and student at ALA. “(It helps me) know that I’m in a good environment where I’ll be taken care of.”

A fellow ALA student Alycia added, ““I think it’s a really smart thing to do. I think that it really shows that they can be trusted by their passengers knowing that [UTA is] prepared.”

UTA and first responders hope that hosting simulations help to make the emergency response process more streamlined.

“We’re working with a lot of other local agencies as well as the county and then communicating that information,” simulation coordinator Amy Cornell-Titcomb said. “It’s that coordination and establishing relationships so you know who your partners are ahead of time rather than when something actually happens. And then anything we identify as gaps with our planning and our response to this we make corrective actions.”

UTA will host the second phase on Thursday, May 12, simulating a Family Assistance Center. Scott Iddings, media representative for UTA explained that this second phase is to test the interaction with families and the public after an attack. Phase two considers the difficulties in connecting victims with their families and disseminating crucial information to the public.

Scott Iddings, Media and Promotions Special for UTA helped out during the simulation. (Natalie Bothwell)
Scott Iddings, Media and Promotions Special for UTA helped out during the simulation. (Natalie Bothwell)

“UTA does plan and prepare for things like this and safety is of utmost importance to us,” Cornell-Titcomb said. “We’re doing things ahead of time and we have everything in place to respond if this event ever were to happen.” Cornell-Titcomb said the event of an emergency such as this is highly unlikely, but the UTA is aware of similar events across the world and is preparing accordingly.

Nate Allred, an Intelligence Analyst for the FBI emphasized the importance of conducting drills with all of the emergency response teams, FBI, and other agencies who would need to be involved. “Disorganization can be the biggest danger in an incident like this so these training exercises, as challenging as they are to put together, are really valuable,” Allred said.

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