Dirty Bomb Exercise Ultimate Test for Urban Search and Rescue Teams

May 1st, 2019

RICHARD VENTURA

In this episode (#62) of All Hazards we talk with Orange County Fire Captain Richard Ventura. He’s a member of the California Urban Search & Rescue Task Force 5 and is the director of the Southern Wind RDD US&R Full Scale Exercise. That’s the topic of conversation.  This is a learning based exercise that challenges US&R task forces in an environment that’s the next best thing to a real world event.

The scenario for Southern Wind 2019:

During the weeks of May 1st and 9th 2019, there will be a World Cup Soccer tournament held in Southern California. During the early morning hours of May 1st, a car bomb explodes at Union Station near downtown Los Angeles. Simultaneously another bomb explodes at the Stub Hub Center in Carson and the Exchange Mall (Del Valle) where prominent National Soccer Team is scheduled to make a public appearance; both explosions cause massive injuries and structural damage. At the Exchange Mall there is a partial collapse of the structure and a large fire. The adjacent Memorial Hospital (Del Valle) is seriously damaged. The source of the Exchange Mall explosion is a Radiological Dispersion Device RDD. As a result of the structural collapse at the Exchange Mall and Memorial Hospital, CA-TF6 and CA-TF8 will be activated.  US&R teams will assess the scenes and proceed to rescue survivors and save lives.

Participating Organizations:

California Task Force 2 (CA-TF2)

California Task Force 5 (CA-TF5)

California Task Force 6 (CA-TF6)

California Task Force 8 (CA-TF8)

Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD) - HazMat 150

 

Sponsors:

California Governor's Office of Emergency Services

Orange County Fire Authority

FEMA National Urban Search and Rescue Response System

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sentinel Response 18 FSE and Interagency Cooperation

March 26th, 2018

 

(SGM Gerald Davis, center, looking at camera)

In recent months, California and our nation has been no stranger to devastating natural and man-made emergencies. So, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) joined the California National Guard’s Homeland Response Force (HRF) and 95th Civil Support Team, along with multiple State/Federal Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces, CAL FIRE, FBI, the Department of Energy, and several other elite emergency response agencies for a full-scale terrorism response exercise at Sacramento’s Sleep Train Arena.

“In just the last year we’ve seen our highly trained emergency response and recovery teams deployed across the nation to lead critical lifesaving missions,” said Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci. “This exercise will test those critical rescue and response skills, as well as enhance our ability to respond to real world events that could happen anywhere in California, our nation or in other parts of the world."

The training scenario involved a series of simultaneous terrorist attacks across Northern California following a 6.5-magnitude earthquake. The attacks include simulated improvised explosive devices (IED), the detonation of a simulated radiation-dispersal device (RDD) and firearms. Sleep Train Arena will serve as the training site for IED and RDD response, while Sonoma Raceway served as the site for active shooter response training. Hundreds of emergency-response personnel, vehicles, and aircraft participated.

“It’s only through regular, realistic training alongside our partner agencies that we keep our skills sharp and response times low,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General for the California National Guard. “These exercises establish the relationships and interagency coordination that is fundamental to an effective response during emergency incidents.”

In this episode we pull SGM Gerald Davis, of the California National Guard, to talk about organizing such a large and complex training exercise and why they're so important, and so important to make as real as possible.

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Keeping the Deck “STAC-ed” Against Threats in California

December 13th, 2016

 

 

This episode brings us to the topic of homeland security in California. The State Threat Assessment System (STAS) describes its mission as Protecting society through shared information and communication. It fosters a collaborative effort to enhance the reporting, tracking, analysis, and assessment of criminal threat information and suspicious activity, produces and shares timely and actionable homeland security information, and enhances the safety of the citizens of California, while rigorously protecting their privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

We sit down with Maria Gomez, who is a strategic analyst team manager with the STAC, the State Threat Assessment Center, which is part of the STAS.

STAC
http://www.caloes.ca.gov/cal-oes-divisions/state-threat-assessment-center

STAS
https://calstas.org/default.aspx/MenuItemID/168/MenuGroup/CALSTAS+Home.htm

Fusion Centers
https://www.dhs.gov/fusion-center-success-stories

 

 

 

 

 

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Oklahoma City Bombing: California Sent its Best to Midwest Terror Response

April 19th, 2016

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On April 19, 1995, a yellow moving truck parked in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building; at 9:02 AM, it exploded. The death and devastation it left in its wake was like nothing ever seen in the U.S. The blast killed 168 people and injured more than 600 others; it destroyed half of the building that was full of employees. The enormous and dangerous rescue and recovery operation began immediately and Oklahoma officials called on California for help. Mark Ghilarducci and Kim Zagaris were dispatched to the scene because of their urban search and rescue and disaster response expertise. Unbeknownst to Ghilarducci, he would soon be assigned as commander of the management team, for an operation bigger and more complex than anything he’d ever encountered.


Mark Ghilarducci, Cal OES Director

​Mark S. Ghilarducci serves as the Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), appointed July 1, 2013 by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. Ghilarducci previously served as Secretary of the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) appointed in February 2012by Governor Brown.  As a member of the Cabinet, Director Ghilarducci serves as the Governor’s Homeland Security Advisor (HSA) and oversees statewide public safety, emergency management, emergency communications, counter-terrorism efforts and the State Threat Assessment System (STAS).

 

Kim Zagaris, State Fire & Rescue Chief

Kim Zagaris serves as the Executive Coordinator for Cal OES Fire and Rescue Services Advisory Committee/FIRESCOPE Board of Directors. Chief Zagaris is responsible for managing the FIRESCOPE Program, California Incident Command Certification System, the California Fire Assistance Agreement, State Assistance for Fire Equipment Program, as well as, serve on numerous state and national committees,associations and programs, including Cal OES representation on the California State Strategic Committee on Terrorism, the California Wildfire Coordination Group and more. He joined Cal OES in 1987.

Links / Resources

Stronger in the Broken Places: Nine Lessons for Turning Crisis into Triumph by James Lee Witt

Terror Hits Home: The Oklahoma City Bombing

Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

For more on Mark Ghilarducci, click here

For more on the Cal OES Fire & Rescue Division, click here

Photos by: Fire Chief Kim Zagaris

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