October 02, 2019
DIVISION OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND EMERGENCY SERVICES CONDUCTS ‘ELECTION DAY CHAOS’ EXERCISE TO TRAIN FIRST RESPONDERS HOW TO HANDLE A COMPLEX CRISIS
First Responders from the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and Capital Regions Participating
Exercise Funded by FEMA Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack Grant
The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services today conducted a Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack Capstone exercise where first responders are faced with a series of physical attacks at polling places on Election Day and are tasked with working cooperatively across jurisdictions to respond. More than 115 command officials and 154 first responders from the Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York and the Capital Regions participated in the exercise, which was funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack grant program.
“Given the ever-evolving threat landscape in the modern world, it’s critical command level officials and their first responder teams have the real-world training they need to effectively respond to a complex attack, said Patrick Murphy, Commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “While this exercise involved a crisis situation on Election Day, the fact is, a crisis can occur anytime and by utilizing the first-class resources available at New York’s State Preparedness Training Center, we are able to provide our local partners with an excellent opportunity to test and refine their response capabilities.”
The exercise was developed as a result of the Division being awarded a $1,379,000 grant under FEMA’s Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack program in 2017 to support the training of officials and first responders in these regions to respond to a complex attack. The Division paired with four upstate urban areas – Buffalo-Erie-Niagara; Rochester-Monroe; Syracuse-Onondaga and the Capital Region, plus the New York State Police, to apply for this competitive grant. This grant was the only one awarded in FEMA Region II (New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and eight tribal nations) and one of 29 given nationally.
The grant funds covered local planning, training and exercises in each region, a Capstone exercise at the State Preparedness Training Center, and the development of a ‘Managing Chaos’ workshop for senior and elected officials on handling complex crisis situations. The Division held its Managing Chaos workshops earlier this year in all four regions.
During the exercise, simulated attacks occurred in various types of polling stations such as schools and government buildings to provide a real-world scenario. Command officials and first responders from each region had to respond to an active shooter incident that included secondary attacks involving improvised explosive devices and hazardous materials.
Each of the four upstate urban areas sent emergency management officials, patrol officers, tactical team operators, explosive detection canine teams, bomb squad technicians, telecommunications staff, emergency medical services, and hazardous materials responders to participate in today’s exercise. In total, more than 400 people representing command staff, first responders, exercise support staff and role players participated today.
“The Albany Police Department is proud to partner with other Capital District Emergency Service agencies participating in the Statewide Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack training,” said Albany Police Department Deputy Chief Brian C. Hogan. “Cooperation and coordination of first responders is essential to the successful mitigation and management of local and large-scale emergencies. This collaboration with local, State, and Federal partners is an opportunity to strengthen our robust relationships and prepare ourselves to handle crisis situations.”
“The collaborative partnerships required to attain CCTA funding and ultimately execute the missions expected as deliverables has been truly rewarding,” said Dan Neaverth, Commissioner of Erie County Homeland Security and Emergency Services. “Equipping, training and planning across jurisdictional and agency specific disciplines makes us as a community and state better prepared for the complex challenges facing first responders today.”
"One of Monroe County's top priorities is protecting residents from both internal and external threats, and while we have made significant investments to our own public safety operation, it’s critical that we participate in statewide efforts like these and work together to prevent tragedies wherever they may occur,” said Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. “Our County OEM staff is proud to team with local law enforcement, fire service, and EMS to bolster our security as a state and a nation."
“Onondaga County was honored to participate in the Complex Coordinated Terrorist Attack grant program with DHSES and the other large upstate New York cities,” said Daniel H. Wears, Commissioner of Onondaga County Department of Emergency Management. “This program, particularly the capstone exercise being held at the State Preparedness Training Center, has afforded our responders the ability to train and exercise collectively to better prepare our region for an event of this type. The outcomes of this program will have a tremendous impact on the capabilities of our first responders and their respective command staffs.”
About the State Preparedness Training Center
The State Preparedness Training Center operated by the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, affords state, local, and federal agencies a complex of training venues to conduct the entire spectrum of training. From classroom lectures and discussions to reality- and high-performance scenario-based training, the SPTC offers opportunities for dynamic emergency first responder training. The SPTC offers agencies realistic training environments such as a simulated city, residential housing complex, collapsed building rubble pile, woodland structures and other settings. Now in its 13th year of operation, the SPTC annually trains thousands of New York’s first responders, including law enforcement, emergency medical services, and emergency management personnel, in a variety of areas including response to active shooter events, emergency vehicle operations, EMS special situations, and patrol officer survival.
About the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services
The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services provides leadership, coordination and support for efforts to prevent, protect against, prepare for, respond to, and recover from terrorism, natural disasters, threats, fires and other emergencies. For more information, visit the Facebook page, follow @NYSDHSES on Twitter, or visit dhses.ny.gov.