First responders in the D.C. area are sharpening their skills, testing their mettle, and building important interdepartmental relationships in the "Capital Shield" region exercises Wednesday. As part of the exercise, fire departments, police, military and even actors are brought together to play out mock terrorist attacks and other disasters.
"Helicopters are coming in to evacuate casualties that we are starting to extract from the buildings," says Cory Wright, an Army specialist with the Joint Forces, of the drill. "Some have gone through chemical decon, others has just been traumatized by some of the debris."
First responders from Fairfax County, Loudoun County and the District are trying to rescue mock victims from buildings set up to look like they’ve been attacked.
Fairfax County Fire & EMS Battalion Chief Paul Ruwe oversees men and women who are using saws and jack hammers to free victims. He says efforts such as Capital Shield help the region's first responders practice working together.
"It’s incredibly important when we respond to the big events, obviously 9/11 proved that when we know everybody before a major event occurs, we work that much more smoothly," says Ruwe. "We know the names. We know the faces."
And knowing names and faces, says the Battalion Chief, helps with that split-second decision of assigning tasks in a life-threatening situation.