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Arizona first responders training for terrorist attacks

LISTEN: Arizona first responders training for terrorist attacks

PHOENIX — First responders from around the state took part in training exercises at the Phoenix Fire Department Training Academy on Thursday aimed at making sure crews are ready for potential terrorist attacks.

About 150 men and women from law enforcement and fire departments ran mock disaster drills, said Phoenix Fire Capt. Jonathan Jacobs.

“During this training exercise, we’re going to have a hostage type of situation, we’re going to have the police force that is here go and stabilize the situation … we’re also going to have hazardous materials response with also building collapse response,” he said before the training began.

The training exercises are part of ensuring crews are able to coordinate with each other effectively and work together to provide support to local agencies in the event of a disaster, Jacobs said.

Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said there is no apparent risk of a terrorist attack at this time but continuous training is important to keep crews prepared.

“On 9/11, our world changed and that is why we are preparing for that,” he said. “We hope it never happens, (however) we want to make sure though we are prepared for anything.”

Training for potential terrorist attacks are biannual occurrences for these first responders, though some specialized units train more frequently.

Jacobs said the training is more relevant than ever as the Valley gets ready for next year’s Super Bowl and preparations for the event are well underway.

“The training aspect, and the planning, and those type of committees have been going on for probably six months already,” hr said.

The 150 men and women make up the Urban Areas Security Initiative, Rapid Response Task Force and the Chemical, Biological, Radioactive and Nuclear Task Force, which are capable of providing support across the state within 72 hours to any agency that might become overwhelmed in a disaster.