ORISKANY, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Election Day is just over a month away. And while a terror attack at your polling place might be the last thing on your mind, it’s at the forefront for hundreds of first responders from across New York State.
Police officers, fire, EMS, tactical units, and emergency management teams are training for the worst-case scenario. On Wednesday, they simulated a terrorist attack at a polling place.
From active shooters to hazmat situations, while these may be staged scenarios, the inspiration comes from tragedies seen across the country.
“You can’t train enough for something that happens so training is very important. The more you do it, it becomes second hand. You don’t have to think about what you have to do next,” said Robert Stallman, Assistant Director at the State Preparedness Training Center.
The key here is getting all hands on deck, with multiple agencies from different areas playing a vital role.
“You want to be familiar with the names and faces of those you’re going to work within a real event so that you’re not meeting somebody for the first time when things are really bad,” said Captain Keith Golden with the New York State Police.
And with the state’s landscape being so diverse, these first responders need to be ready to work in any condition.
“We can go through anything form a wild land search for something to an urban search for a rescue type of an event. So this gives us the capability to practice all of those in one area,” said Capt. Golden.
Once they’re done going through all of the scenarios, they go through a debriefing where the different agencies talk about what they did right and what they could do better next time. If they ever were to see this in real-time, they’d know how to handle it.
The exercise is funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The $1,379,000 grant was awarded to Upstate New York to help first responders when it comes to complex attacks. It was one of only 29 grants given nationally.
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