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