San Diego

Mock Terrorist Attack Tests San Diego County's Response Plan

The San Diego region conducted a massive cross-county emergency response drill Wednesday morning to prepare for a potential terrorist attack.

The drill, which happens once every two years, took place at two popular locations -- Legoland and a South Bay amphitheater -- allowing first responders to practice responding to a large-scale coordinated attack, according to the Chula Vista Police Department (CVPD).

About 1,000 people participated, including community college and nursing school volunteers in full makeup to simulate injuries and death.

The CVPD, Carlsbad Police Department, San Diego County Office of Emergency Services, several fire departments, and all area hospitals participated.

Mock active shooters first targeted Legoland in Carlsbad around 9 a.m., "injuring" dozens of park-goers with fake explosive devices and drone attacks.

In this mock scenario, the suspects avoided capture and got away, then drove to Chula Vista where a sold-out concert was underway at the North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre.

"We’ve learned from other cities and attacks like in Las Vegas, not to send all our resources to one place, because, like we’ll see today, there could be a secondary attack elsewhere that we need to respond to as well," CVPD Lt. Dan Peak said.

An hour after the first simulated attack, the suspects plowed their vehicle into a crowded parking lot at the amphitheatre, where some attendees were still tailgating. CVPD said the scenario was inspired by recent terror attacks involving vehicles, such as in Brussels, Paris, and New York City.

The fake active shooters then forced entry into the concert venue while the main act was on stage. In the drill, they shot dozens of people as well as took hostages.

"The bottom line is we want to be able to get to an active shooter scene as quickly as possible and resolve it as quickly as possible," said Lt. Peak.

In Wednesday's scene, first responders had to deal with 14 deaths and 30 to 40 people injured, all while being graded by evaluators and recorded by a drone in the sky.

The exercise tested the region's coordination in responding to an attack and how first responders track hundreds of patients, set up family assistance centers, and aid in family reunifications.

After the exercise, responders planned to sit down for a formal debriefing and look at what went well and what can be improved upon.

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