Exercise rehearses for the worst in city fun zone
By DAN SEWELL Associated Press
CINCINNATI (AP) — On the eve of Cincinnati’s boisterous annual Oktoberfest celebration, hundreds of people, some covered in fake blood, and first responders Thursday rehearsed for the worst — a terror attack in the riverside entertainment area.
The morning-long exercise at The Banks area and at Great American Ball Park, where the Cincinnati Reds play, used a scenario of a large truck carrying chemicals and crashing into a crowd. A truck barreling through a Bastille Day celebration in France killed 86 people and injured hundreds in 2016.
Regional emergency management agencies, first responders and hospitals took part in the large-scale exercise . West Clermont High School students applied moulage to casualty actors from Cincinnati-area colleges.
“It’s so important to exercise the training and planning,” said Emily Johnson, spokeswoman for the Hamilton County Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency. “This is just testing all the capabilities for when it does happen.”
First responders some 55 miles (89 kilometers) north in Dayton dealt with mass casualties on Aug. 4 when a gunman killed nine people and injured dozens more in an early morning attack before police killed him in the Oregon entertainment district. A gunman killed three people and wounded two before Cincinnati police killed him Sept. 6, 2018, in a bank building off the downtown Fountain Square.
Such major training exercises are held every three years. Johnson said the exercise wasn’t tied specifically to Oktoberfest, noting that the riverfront area draws crowds many weekends with sports, concerts and festivals. The Reds are playing at home this weekend against the New York Mets.
The Oktoberfest Zinzinnati is expected to draw about half a million people this weekend. A kick-off event, the “running of the wieners (dachshund race),” was set for a couple hours after the mass casualty training.
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