The carpet squeezed blood with each step, and the walls were awash with chunks of innards and meat once comprising a human body. Victims of all severity littered the aftermath—many innocent, some accomplices, maybe still dangerous, of the disassembled terrorist whose vest bomb painted the scene. Special-ops cops waded gingerly through the results, scanning for further threats, working to discern and subdue culprits who remained.
A ways outside, in the warm zone, EMS awaited its call. When it came, the crew moved in for a rapid triage and extrication of victims to a casualty-collection point. No involved care involved, just tourniquets and such lifesaving basics, a combat mentality for a near-combat situation.
Casualties collected and immediate life threats averted, the exercise ended.
That was the sticky scenario posed by Urban Shield 2011, the advanced homeland security training event held Oct. 14–17 in Alameda County, Calif. This year’s scenario posed a terrorist takeover of a converted building on the Hayward campus of Cal State University, East Bay. Three terrorists held 10 hostages; rotating series of EMS and SWAT providers were briefed, then developed response plans. SWAT rappelled down the building’s back; the bomb went off. Amputations, hemothoraces and other blast injuries resulted; moulaged volunteers and high-tech manikins represented victims. Law enforcement had to secure the suspects and scene, then provide cover for the tactical EMS triage/treatment/evacuation operation. EMTs and medics wielded advanced tools like combat tourniquets and hemostatic gauze. Throughout the weekend, teams and providers from across California and beyond ran through the series, then evaluated what they’d learned in dealing with each other and among themselves.
Urban Shield is conducted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, with support from the Bay Area Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI). Its goal is to let participants gauge their levels of preparedness and ability to perform complex operations alongside other public safety responders. Last year, teams from as far away as Israel, Bahrain and Jordan participated, among more than 75 law enforcement agencies. An associated vendor show provides access to the latest relevant tools and technologies.
Following the event, a comprehensive after-action report evaluates readiness gaps and offers plans for improvement. This helps determine allocations of future UASI resources.
For more on the 2011 Urban Shield exercise in Alameda County, see the December issue of EMS World Magazine.