Tuesday, May 18, 2010

San Francisco's Emergency Services Train for Water-based Terrorist Attack

San Francisco's emergency services held a major training exercise this morning to help protect the city against a water-based terrorist attack.

The exercise involved two sea lions and a dolphin from the US Navy Marine Mammal Program who are trained to detect underwater mines and intruder divers.

Their venue, McCovey Cove behind the  Giants' AT & T baseball park, where 42,940 fans had packed into the stadium on the opening day of the season.

Any large gathering place in the US, especially a sports stadium, is a potential target, said an informed bystander who wished to remain anonymous.

It has taken about a year to prepare for the exercise, which is held once every five years and is part of a wider state drill, including at the port of Oakland across the bay.

The planning itself has proved crucial as it has given the emergency services opportunity to think of new ways in how the city might be attacked.

'There are over 50 specific things we identified to be lacking, so that alone makes this a success,'  continued the bystander.

Training for today was based around the question, 'What would you do if.........? We have been thinking "outside of the box",' he said.

'We know there are all sorts of places we don't want to think about. It's important to look at everything we can.'

The emergency services are not complacent, however. The result of the year-long process and today's practice 'may not be an A-plus but a passing grade,' he said, but without the exercise there is 'maybe something we wouldn't have done.'

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