Paul Gilman, posing as a physician, stands beside Palo Alto Police Chief Lynne Johnson during a pree conference Wednesday about the Golden Guardians drill. Photo by Norbert von der Groeben/Palo Alto Online.
That is the crux of a statewide disaster simulation this morning called the Golden Guardians. The Palo Alto scenario was that bioterrorists had released airborne pneumonic-plague bacteria sometime during the JAMFEST concert Nov. 13 and 14 using large canisters resembling welding tanks.
Police and medical officials taking part in the one-day exercise said they practiced using every method at their disposal to warn the public of the deadly threat of infection.
Volunteers from throughout Palo Alto took part by role-playing everything from nosy reporters and hysterical mothers in search of their children to City Council candidates in search of publicity for their political campaigns.
At an emergency-volunteer base at Cubberley Community Center, volunteers offered their help. At a medical and triage center at Mitchell Park, blue M&Ms were supplied as "antibiotics" against the disease to volunteers pretending to be victims.
The purpose of the exercise was to test how well agencies and the public would communicate with one another in a disaster. (cont..)
There is also to be a huge "hearts and minds" drive aimed at diverting young Muslims away from the influence of fanatics. The Prime Minister said a review of vulnerable buildings and crowded spaces like shopping centres had led to a rethink of the way they are protected.
More than 250 busy railway stations, airports and seaports as well as 100 "sensitive" installations like power stations and electricity substations will be given extra security.
This could include screening luggage at major stations like London King's Cross or Manchester Piccadilly using mobile checking devices that can be moved around the country.
More buildings will be defended by barriers to stop car bomb attacks, extra blast-proofing, vehicle exclusion zones and metal detectors. (cont...)