Emergency personnel responded to a mock explosion of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in the New Jersey Marine Terminals during a training exercise only hours after a similar car bomb was discovered across the river in New York City’s Times Square.
The importance of drills and training for such potential mass-casualty incidents was not lost on the New Jersey responders from Elizabeth, Newark, Northern New Jersey EMS Task Force and The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, said Hank Lawson, Program Director for Exercises with TEEX’s National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center (NERRTC), which evaluated the full-scale exercise for The Port Authority on May 2.
The exercise, planned months before, was eerily similar to actual events going on in neighboring New York City. In the exercise scenario, a car bomb detonates in Port Elizabeth and then another VBIED fails to detonate in Port Newark, where the alleged suspect leaves the vehicle and runs into an office building and begins shooting workers. The New Jersey Marine Terminals straddle Elizabeth and Newark, NJ, and are adjacent to the Newark Liberty International Airport.
Nearly 500 emergency response personnel from dozens of New Jersey agencies responded to the Sunday morning exercise, including 50 ambulances and two air medical helicopters. In addition, more than 100 patient actors and volunteer “victims” added realism to the event. NERRTC provided 23 facilitators and support staff for the exercise.
The exercise was just the latest component of a long-standing relationship between TEEX and The Port Authority that goes back to 2006. The Port Authority has a contract with TEEX to support planning, training and exercises, as well as to provide jurisdictional emergency management simulation training in the TEEX Emergency Operations Training Center.
The goal is continuous improvement of emergency response plans and rehearsal of response operations. The Port Authority has called on TEEX-NERRTC to support previous full-scale exercises at the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail stations at the World Trade Center, Exchange Place in Jersey City and at the Hoboken station.
The Port Authority of NY & NJ is responsible for security of bridges, tunnels, the Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) rail system, bus terminals, airports and the seaport in the bi-state region.