Terrorism Exercise Transforms Government Canyon into Mock 'Disaster Site'

Government  Canyon State Natural Area became a simulated Ground Zero on Monday  afternoon as federal, state and local law officers and agents responded  to a variety of mock terrorism-inspired scenarios, WOAI News reports. 

The half-day  training exercise was organized by the Texas Department of Public Safety  and featured several recreated incidents, including an shooter  incident, bombings, and violence against government contractors in the  form of a downed aircraft, says Special Agent Michelle Lee with the San  Antonio FBI office. 

Lee says as high-profile criminal and terror acts  increase in number and complexity, state agencies are taking on larger,  lead roles because of their familiarity with affected areas and rapid  response times.

 "Having an  exercise that really stressed our resources throughout the state was  important to identifying areas where we needed to improve our  communications, or our operations in some way, and that's essentially  what this exercise does."

"It incorporates all the components that we would have in a real-life crisis event, " Lee says.

The exercise  also featured mock victims complete in "moulage," a form of theatrical  make-up that simulates injuries, and other participants serving as  witnesses in order to provide first responders and investigators with  immediate post-incident skills testing and clues. 

"Every resource that we would employ, we have here," says Lee.

She says Government Canyon was an ideal location to recreate a "complex terrorism incident."

 "It's important to have a lot of space where you have a debris field,  where you're able to collect evidence and simulate what would happen in  real life," Lee says. "Government Canyon is a beautiful, beautiful  natural area, and it gives us a lot of space so we can do these  operations without interfering with businesses and schools and other  real-life events that are taking place in our community."

As a  precaution, nearby residents received warnings that loud noises, sirens  and numbers of emergency vehicles likely would be features of the  training. The exercise, she says, took about a year to plan and  organize. 

PHOTO:  Local,  state and federal law officers and agents converged on Government Canyon  State Nature Area Monday afternoon for series of terrorism-inspired  training scenarios. The training featured numerous recreated incidents,  including an active shooter, bombings, and an aircraft brought down by  terrorists. Photo courtesy FBI

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