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Metro first responders, police train in simulated terrorist attack exercise

ATLANTA — Police and first responders from across metro Atlanta responded to a simulated terrorist attack as part of a day-long training exercise.

The scenario is a terrorist strike with explosions at an abandoned Kings Inn at Fulton Industrial Boulevard and Interstate 20.

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It looks almost like a movie set, with overturned cars and smoke and volunteer actors wearing fake blood. Organizers call it the first training exercise of its kind in metro Atlanta.

“This is a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response to address this scenario,” said Bernard Coxton, director of Homeland Security and Preparedness at the Atlanta Regional Commission, which organized the exercise.

“The goal here today is to put our first responders in the most realistic situation, in the most stressful situation, to assist them in preparing should something like this happen in our region,” Coxton said.

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There was a second scene just down Fulton Industrial Boulevard, at a vacant Red Roof Inn. In the mock emergency, terrorists have taken hostages to this site. SWAT officers and the bomb squad respond by entering the building and going room to room.

“It gives us an opportunity to identify any concerns or problems or any improvements that we need to make because there will always be a debriefing,” said Lt. Maureen Smith of the Fulton County Police Department. “At that point, we’ll decide together, collectively, what could we have done better.”

Police and first responders from the city of Atlanta, and from five metro counties, were all involved in the exercise. It was divided into two sessions, each five hours long.

“That’s what’s gonna happen in real life,” Smith said. “It’s gonna be stressful, it’s gonna be fast-paced, and so this training is very unique.”

“We’re simulating that multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency response so they will be familiar with one another, they will have relationships in place,” Coxton said.

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