"Law enforcement officials and other first responders will participate in a full-scale exercise on April 26 designed to prepare for the possibility of a complex coordinated terror attack in the National Capital Region," the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments said in a Tuesday media release. “Emergency managers who work together at the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) planned the exercise to help protect residents by preparing for an attack involving multiple target locations and teams of perpetrators."
The exercise will include hundreds of volunteer actors, emergency medical service workers, firefighters and police officers.
COG’s Managing Director of Homeland Security and Public Safety Scott Boggs said in the release, "Law enforcement officials practice and exercise their skills on their own regularly because that’s the best way to ensure we are always ready to respond quickly and professionally … On April 26, we’ll go one step further and stage a very realistic emergency event involving multiple sites and actors posing as the casualties. However, there is no reason for residents to be alarmed because the exercise will occur in a controlled environment."
Boggs explained that the drill has been in the works for a year, and that the exercise wasn’t related to the current international terror threat, but rather in preparation for incidents like that in Paris in November 2015, when 130 people were killed by Daesh supporters in multiple shootings and suicide bombings.
"I wouldn’t say that there was any event that triggered it as much as it was throughout the region we are always doing exercises of on a regular basis," Newsweek quoted him as saying. "This is just another one of those opportunities for us to prepare for and plan appropriately for a complex, coordinated attack.
An event that has multiple locations that don’t necessarily follow jurisdictional lines poses a challenge for command and control, resourcing, things of that nature. It’s only appropriate for us to approach that regionally and ensure that we’re all prepared for and ready to manage it."
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and other groups in the New York/New Jersey area will also be conducting an emergency drill this week. The “Gotham Shield exercise that began Monday is intended to help prepare for a nuclear attack.
FEMA spokeswoman Lauren Lefebvre told NJ.com that the drills are being held in response to tense relations between the US and North Korea, and aim "to expand the ability at local and national levels to coordinate an effect a large-scale response and recovery to an event like this."