In the early morning hours of May 16, 2004, OEM hosted Operation Transit
SAFE, the City's first interagency subway exercise, at lower Manhattan's Bowling
Green subway station. Inspired by the Madrid bombings of March 2004, the
four-hour drill was designed to test the City's response to a terrorist attack
in the subway.
Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Office for Domestic
Preparedness (ODP), Transit SAFE involved more than 500 emergency responders and
400 NYPD recruits and FDNY probationary firefighters posing as "victims" and
The scenario: Transit SAFE
began as two simulated explosions occurred on separate subway trains in the
Bowling Green station. Fire, police, and other rescue and law enforcement teams
were immediately deployed to the scene to initiate rescue and response
First responders discovered a third, unexploded device on one
train, and the NYPD Bomb Squad worked quickly to remove it. Meanwhile, rescuers
were challenged to assist victims and maintain rescue and site security
operations amid the throng of evacuees exiting the station.
The exercise: Drawing
participants from more than 60 agencies and organizations, Transit SAFE was
designed specifically to test rescue, casualty management, crime scene
investigation, environmental, law enforcement, logistics, mutual aid, and
telecommunications aspects of the City's response to an incident in the subway
Participants were evaluated on objectives including:
Interaction between facility operations personnel and local responders,
including interaction during the transition period between internal facility
response and external emergency response.
Procedures to request, receive, and integrate response assets from
Interagency coordination of personnel.
Ability to rescue, treat, and track casualties in a mass casualty incident
Ability to protect the public from the effects of a WMD attack.
Procedures to ensure perimeter security/crime scene
The Mayor concluded the exercise with a press conference with City and State
The aftermath: Following the
exercise, participants gathered for "debriefing" sessions, in which participants
reviewed the sequence of events and exercise objectives. Smaller groups compiled
after-action reports, which City agencies and participating organziations will
draw on to amend and improve existing plans.