Las Vegas

Annual Disaster Simulation at San Francisco International Airport Tests Preparedness of First Responders

Preparing for the worst, first responders came together overnight to sharpen their skills during at an emergency exercise at San Francisco International Airport.

The annual exercise is designed to make sure first responders know exactly what to do in a mass casualty event in hopes of saving lives.

This year's event centered around a simulated terrorist attack involving an active shooter. Although details of the simulation appear to be eerily similar to Sunday's deadly concert shooting in Las Vegas, the airport planned the scenario in back in January following the shooting at Fort Lauderdale Airport that left five people dead.

The simulation at SFO included deployed smoke, sounds of gunfire and explosions, and about 60 people acting as victims. Airport staff, police officers, firefighters and other agencies were tested to see how adequately they could provide aid.

"At the end of tonight's exercise, we're going to do what we call a 'hot wash' which is essentially a debriefing," SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel said. "We're going to talk about what worked well and what didn't work so well, and we use exercises like this to continually improve and enhance our procedures.

The federal government requires that these drills be held every three years. SFO conducts the drill on an annual basis "just because it makes us better," Yakel said.

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