Long Island's biggest disaster drill ever

April 26, 2008 1:31:24 PM PDT
More than 600 emergency workers acted out a response to a fake "dirty bomb" at a federal courthouse Saturday, seeing how authorities might react in event of a real radiological attack. "Everything came off very well," said Richard Stockinger, deputy director of the Suffolk County Fire Academy. "We met all of our objectives."

Police, firefighters, medical workers and other personnel from 60 agencies converged on the fire academy in Yaphank. The drill also involved 10 hospitals. It started Thursday night and ended Saturday afternoon.

The exercise was dubbed "S.C.R.U.B," or "Suffolk County Response to an Unknown Bomb," said Stockinger, who coordinated the drill.

The mock scenario involved a local biker gang called "El Diablo," which would attack the courthouse with a deadly dirty bomb after federal officials arrested their leaders, Stockinger said.

It was up to police involved in the test to figure out the cause of the blast. Other groups practiced decontamination, detecting radiation exposure and coordinating responses with multiple agencies. Stockinger said cooperation among the agencies was "outstanding," although some had problems communicating by radio because some systems operated on different frequencies.

More than 100 people were injured or killed in the fake attack, Stockinger said. The injured had to be cleansed and decontaminated before they were actually sent to local hospitals for treatment.

Authorities called it the largest emergency drill in Suffolk County's history. It was funded by the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency services with a $175,000 grant from the Department of Homeland Security.