We hope that the Joint Committee on the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill of Parliament which is due to report by the 30th of November questions our UK Civil Contingencies Secretariat on wether a UK version of the the USA civil defence exercise Topoff2 held in May would be as shambolic.
FEMA Points To Flaws, Flubs In Terror Drill
By ROBERT BLOCK
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
"When Washington unleashed 8,000 emergency workers, federal agents and scientists on Chicago and Seattle in May to conduct the largest mock terrorist attack ever organized, officials expected some gaps in America's emergency-response capabilities.
Turns out those gaps are more like craters."
"According to the FEMA internal report, at some point during the simulated radiological dirty-bomb attack in Seattle and bioterror strike in Chicago, medical-emergency teams couldn't get vital equipment such as ventilators because no one knew which federal agency was responsible for them. In other cases, officials deployed equipment and personnel without telling anyone in charge.
Federal agents did not pass on vital intelligence because the intended recipients didn't have security clearances or secure telephone lines. And almost no one understood the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded threat-warning system. "Throughout the first two days of the exercise, disagreement (and confusion) resulted between local, state and federal agencies over whether DHS has implemented 'Orange' or 'Red,' and whether the level was applicable nationally or locally," the report said. "
"What makes the criticism of the exercise particularly worrying for emergency-response experts is that it was one of the most heavily scripted drills ever staged."
"After seeing the Topoff2 analysis, James Lee Witt, the respected former head of FEMA, expressed concern. "It's my experience that any time you add more layers of bureaucrats into emergency plans, it's a hindrance," he said"
We did send our own UK observers to the Topoff2 exercise didn't we ? We do have access to the USA Topoff2 analysis report don't we ? Or does the USA/UK "special relationship" no longer stretch this far ?
Why is it that the Civil Contingencies Secretariat 's UK Resilience website, which is meant to be a central resource for UK Emergency planners and the public, has no mention of Topoff2 at all ?
Remember that a Regional disaster or Emergency in the USA would be a National Emergency here in the UK due to the smaller size of the country.
The recent Bank Underground Station exercise was obviously a much smaller scale affair than Topoff2, and that seemed to be fairly unrealistic and heavily scripted as well.
Does this mean that the actual threshold for declaring Emergency Powers and suspending most of our civil liberties is actually, in practice relatively low, not due to the actual scale of a natural or terrorist disaster, but simply due to the scale of a diasater that the bureaucracy can handle comfortably ?
If there were say 3 Bank Tube exercise scenariios in play at the same time, which would not actually devastate London, would Emergency Powers be declared because of the panic and misinformation and unclear chains of command and information hoarding which seems to be the normal mode of response by inadequately trained and underfunded Emergency Services and Civil Servants and Politicians ?
We have severe doubts about the Draft Civil Contingencies Bill