Anti-terrorism training at Greenwood Mall
Police Sunday learned the best ways to respond to a terrorist attack.
The FBI's largest disaster response training exercise kicked off at the Greenwood Mall around 7:00 Sunday evening. Hundreds of agents along with officers and firefighters Greenwood and other state and local law enforcement agencies partnered together for the exercise, focusing on preparedness, response and recovery efforts after a major attack.
With so many emergency responders participating, Indianapolis firefighter Shane Pitts said communication was one of the keys to a successful response.
"Communication break down it could just literally shutdown the process of evacuating the mall in an orderly fashion," he explained.
This was the FBI's largest exercise like this at a mall and capped off other lessons learned from previous smaller mock disasters. The mall closes after 6:00 on Sundays, so law enforcement had free reign of the property.
Part of the exercise also included medical personnel treating fake injuries and an explosive response team suiting up to retrieve a bomb, which they then handed off to a detonation expert. Just like in a real threat, local Officers are working closely with the FBI's Evidence Response Team.
While mannequins were used for some of the injured, IMPD Chief Rick Hite's new recruits also played the role of injured people.
"They have in the classroom for several weeks now, and now they get to see some actual work," said Chief Hite. "Priceless training that probably wasn't around when I was a young recruit."
The FBI hopes by conducting this exercise, they will be ready for a possible real terrorist attack, boosting not only their own confidence, but also that of the public counting on them for safety.
"So we can give that confidence to the public that we are there to do this in the right way in the rare occurrence that it should happen," said W. Jay Abbott, the FBI's special agent in charge.
"These types of things are great because we will take what we learn after tonight and work together to work out the bugs and kinks," added Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.
That means each agency can walk away from the fake disaster with priceless training ready, but hoping it's never needed in real life.
The exercise was expected to continue until 3:00 Monday morning. Eventually, the FBI will debrief about the exercise looking at what they did right, what they did wrong and what they can do better in case there is ever a real threat.