New mass casualty exercise, involving hundreds of law enforcement personnel


Local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will hold a joint exercise at Lancaster’s Park City Mall on Sunday. The South Central Task Force issued the following news release on Friday afternoon:

“On Sunday evening, May 18th at 6:00pm, hundreds of local, state and federal law enforcement agencies will descend on Park City Mall in Lancaster. This will be the final part of a ten day regional exercise that began on Friday, May 9th at Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), and has played out at HACC, Lancaster Public Safety Training Center and Fort Indiantown Gap. The exercise, Wide Vigilance V, has had over three thousand participants, training and preparing for a wide variety of both natural and manmade disasters.

The initial scenarios are loosely based upon Hurricane Sandy type effects, including collapsed structures, including a hospital, hazardous material leaks and various other outcomes that would be expected in South Central Pennsylvania if a hurricane such as Sandy struck the mid-state area.

Sunday night will bring law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical service, emergency management, 911 center personnel and private citizens together to prepare for a disaster that hopefully will never occur again, a mall shooting. With mall shootings taking place in Nairobi, Kenya and more recently in Columbia, Maryland, local responders felt the need to prepare. “It is always the hope that we can train and be prepared for any disaster that may occur in our region, with the hope that these events never happen. We would not be doing a job though if we did not consider the preparation needed for every possible type of disaster,” stated Greg Noll, Program Manager for the South Central Task Force.

The exercise on Sunday will include tactical teams from all levels of government, and weather permitting a landing by a medical evacuation helicopter. The task force has reached out and gotten over a hundred volunteers to play shoppers/victims. Some volunteers will be “made-up” in moulage to look like they have been injured. This is not the first exercise of this type at Park City. “Park City management understands preparedness,” stated Noll, “Even though we are using the Park City Mall, this exercise helps responders from all over this part of the country prepare for this type of event, no matter where it takes place.”

Citizens are asked not to come to the mall, as security will be tight for the protection of the role players and emergency responders. There will be PENNDOT signs around the mall alerting the community as to the exercise, so as not to alarm the public.”

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