Crews practice bioterrorism drills in Ore., Wash.

Crews practice bioterrorism drills in Ore., Wash.

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by Jeff Thompson, KGW.com Staff

kgw.com

Posted on May 15, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 22 at 12:54 PM

PORTLAND -- Fire crews, police and health officials in the Portland Metro began drills to simulate a terrorist attack involving a biological weapon this week.

The exercises take place from May 21 to May 23 in 50 different locations throughout the area, involving personnel from 65 jurisdictions, Simonds said.

"The incident is simulated, the sickness and death imagined, yet all involved will take it very seriously," said Port of Portland spokeswoman Kama Simonds.

During one phase of the drill, more than 100 students from area high schools will go through medical triage with various imaginary symptoms and 30 of them will be taken to a nearby hospital for decontamination. Two student volunteers will be transported to a hospital by LifeFlight helicopter.

"The purpose of the exercise is to test the region’s ability to respond to a complex public health incident affecting multiple agencies across several political boundaries," she added. "The exercise will address policy, plans and operations related to bioterrorism incident mobilization and response."

It will be the largest emergency response drill in the Portland area since 2007’s "TOPOFF4" drill, which simulated an attack from a "dirty bomb."

During the same three-day period, the Washington State Annual Bioterrorism Exercise--or WASABE--will take place in Southwest Washington.

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