The DICE, short for Department of Defense Interoperability Communications Exercise, is designed to test new software and other communications systems in a realistic tactical setting. Basically, it will see if first responders and various layers of government can talk to each other in a time crunch.
“Let’s make sure now when we’re not responding to an incident that we can communicate with each other, which means we can all do our jobs better and help people out,” said Captain Casey Collins (USN), Joint Task Force Civil Support Chief of Staff.
It could be a terrorist attack like 9-11. It could be a natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina. Curt Shaffer, Assistant to the Hampton City Manager, believes vital lessons were learned from both catastrophes.
“Our capabilities are vastly improved, but we have a long way to go,” he said.
The DICE is being staged by the Fort Monroe-based Joint Task Force Civil Support.
The group falls under United States Northern Command, and was created in the wake of 9-11 to protect the United States homeland and support civil authorities during domestic emergencies.
Northcom’s Commander, Air Force General Victor Renuart, says the nation’s communications systems are “light years” ahead of where they were a few years ago. He says the country is safer, yet challenges remain.
“We have to find a way to integrate local responders with state responders with federal responders,” said Renuart.
While training like the DICE is important, Joint Task Force Civil Support also responds to real-world situations; most recently sending a planning team with expertise in chemical, biological, nuclear and high-yield explosives to last fall’s massive southern California wildfires.
The simulation, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., will involve both the Ajax-Pickering Hospital and Scarborough Centenary Hospital east of Toronto.
The goal is to see how health care professionals manage a large patient load resulting from a dirty bomb explosion on Highway 401.
The fictional scenario will involve crash victims and hundreds of people who panic when they hear that a van crashed while carrying a crude bomb that created a plume of radioactive dust.
Organizers will watch to see how hospital staff deal with a large influx of people looking to be checked for radiation exposure, among other issues.
The "actors" for the exercise will primarily be students from Centennial College, George Brown College, The Michener Institute, the University of Toronto and Ryerson University.
SUMMIT PHOTO BY BOB FENSKE Volunteers dispense "medication" during a drill conducted by the Winnebago County Public Health Department in Forest City Thursday.
The purpose of the exercise was to discuss the receiving of pharmaceuticals and supplies should there be a need for mass-distribution of medicines in the event of pandemic influenza, a public health emergency, or other health related event where mass-distribution of pharmaceuticals would be necessary
Yellowlees isn't alone in seeing the potential of using virtual reality simulation to train first responders, medical personnel and emergency management officials. Across the country, researchers are exploring how simulations can augment training efforts. Much of the impetus is coming from the growing use of simulation in medical training. Most medical schools are incorporating simulation in their curricula and measuring its effectiveness.
Another driving force is the U.S. Department of Defense, which for years has been funding research about computer simulation for war fighting and medical purposes. Research to support military operations done by organizations such as the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center is being customized for homeland security exercises"
Bodies were scattered all over the desert landscape along with debris from the plane. Volunteer victims participated by playing dead or faking serious injuries that were made to look real with make-up. First responders had to take care of the wounded victims and decide who would be sent to University Physician's Hospital, which also participated in the drill