Emergency response teams practice with a terrorism drill - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Emergency response teams practice with a terrorism drill

By Crystal Price - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Emergency response agencies in Calcasieu Parish performed a homeland security exercise involving a terrorism threat in the lake area on Thursday morning.

The Calcasieu Parish Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office, and the Southwest Louisiana Mutual Aid Association arranged the scenario, but the response was not planned.

"Over the last few years we've really focused on natural disasters," said Dick Gremillion, Director of OHSEP in Calcasieu Parish. "But with everything that's going on in the world today, we thought it would be a good time to test our terrorism response plans again."

The exercise involved a hijacked tug on Lake Charles with two terrorists and two hostages on board.

The purpose of the drill was to test how emergency response teams would react to this type of situation.

"The response for something like this is a little bit different than what we would have for a hurricane," said Gremillion.

Gremillion said one of the largest problems emergency responders encountered in Thursday's drill was communication.

"Two of the objectives today were whether or not we could establish communications with all the agencies, and whether or not our command of control structure would work," said Gremillion.

But after only a few hours of communicating with other agencies, they were able to stop the plans of the staged terrorist.

"It involved us boarding the vessel and us taking them out tactically," said Matt Vezinot, commander of Special Services for the Calasieu Parish Sheriff's Office.

The different agencies spent six months planning for this particular drill.

OHSEP will begin preparing for next year's exercise sometime later this year.

Copyright 2010 KPLC. All rights reserved.

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