Nevada Homeland Security Plans Mock Terrorist Drill

Contact Reporter Edward Lawrence

Homeland security officials were already scheduled to meet in Las Vegas to go over safety concerns in the Las Vegas Valley. The Nevada Homeland Security Commission is very concerned about the attacks in London.

For the members, it serves as a reminder that we cannot let down our guard. For that very reason on Monday the Las Vegas Convention Center will become one mass causality triage center for a mock terrorist drill. Clark County Emergency Management Manager Jim O'Brien says about the drill, "We are testing our local emergency operations plan. The state's emergency operations plan and the national response plan."

O'Brien adds the three-day test starting Monday takes on new meaning because of the London attacks. The exercise planning began last November after a Channel 8 Eyewitness News investigation revealing a break down in the trauma system.

At that time, the Homeland Security Commission Chairman Doctor Dale Carrison said 200 critical patients from a terrorist attack or natural disaster would overwhelm the system. State Emergency Management Director Frank Siracusa says this test will identify problem areas. "Certainly we will find some deficits. That is what an exercise is all about. We know right now we need to improve our processes."

One aspect of the exercise deals with a transit attack. It won't simulate exactly what happened in London, but enough to test local response. Nevada Homeland Security Commissioners were briefed on the test Thursday. During the meeting, the attacks in London were used to highlight the importance of the commissions work.

Nevada Homeland Security Commission Chairman Carrison says, "I think this emphasizes the point that they are still out there. It's not time for us to fall asleep at the switch. It's time for us to go forward and make those recommendations to the governor that protect the citizens of Nevada." 

Carrison worries that we may fall into a false sense of security. He believes tests like the one Monday for Clark County help keep focus. He says the unfortunate incidents in London serve as a reminder that we can be attacked again right here at home.

Former Sheriff and now head of Wynn Las Vegas security, Jerry Keller, is on the commission. He says that casino security staff at all Las Vegas hotels have been alerted to keep an eye out just in case.

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