Pierce County emergency responders conduct anti-terrorism training

More than 300 emergency service personnel convened in Pierce County Thursday to participate in terrorist attack response exercises staged aboard Pierce Transit buses.

The event was designed to allow participants the opportunity to practice emergency response, enabling responders to better know each other’s skills, resources and assets, as well as to practice communications between each agency. The activities — one staged at Sprinker Recreation Center in Spanaway, another staged at the Washington State Fair & Event Center in Puyallup — were the culmination of 16 months of training, drills, and tabletop exercises with Pierce Transit and its partners and stakeholders.

At Sprinker Recreation Center, the scenario involved a transit bus which just had a bomb explode aboard it, while another bomb was be found inside the recreation center. There were multiple casualties as first responders arrived on the scene, including a bomb robot and bomb-sniffing dogs.

At the Washington State Fair & Event Center, the scenario involved a “hijacked” bus that was used for hostage negotiations and SWAT response. First responders from law and fire responded to the incident by neutralizing the hijacker and assisting the multiple victims.

More than 60 volunteers assisted by playing passengers on the buses, enabling first responders to more realistically respond to the wounded on the bus “explosions.”

Emergency first responders who participated in the drills included representatives from Pierce Transit, Central Pierce Fire & Rescue, Graham Fire & Rescue, King County Metro Transit Police, Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, Pierce County Parks and Recreation, Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Pierce County Type 3 Incident Management Team, Regional Intelligence Group, South Sound 9-1-1, and the Tacoma Police Department.

Funding for this exercise was provided by Department of Homeland Security grants.