Mixed assessment of terror drill
7 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government insisted on Thursday that the country was "to a large extent" ready to respond to terrorist threats.
7 April 2005
AMSTERDAM — The Dutch government insisted on Thursday that the country was "to a large extent" ready to respond to terrorist threats.
Interior Minister Johan Remkes made the claim during an initial assessment of Bonfire, the major terror drill held in Amsterdam's Arena stadium on Wednesday.
About 2,000 members of the public — including many school and college students — took part in the exercise, which centered on an Ali B. rap concert.
The government wanted to assess how the emergency services would cope with a bombing at such an event.
As part of the exercise, two fake bombs — with lots of accompanying smoke, were detonated 30 minutes into the concert. Several members of the audience were picked to play casualties, either as fatalities or wounded.
The official evaluation is scheduled to be completed by mid-May, but Remkes, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner and Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen have indicated it was a success.
Remkes has indicated that the co-operation between the various police and emergency services was good, but concedes "not everything proceeded flawlessly".
He cited for instance the police preventing access by the emergency services to the 'disaster area' following the two fake blasts.
Remkes described this as the biggest dilemma of the day as officers were worried ambulance crews would be caught in a third fake blast.
It turned out only two 'bombs' were scheduled to go off, but the personnel on the ground — who were told to treat the incident as a real attack — were not aware of this.
Mayor Cohen said the drill highlighted the need for better co-ordination at the local level between his office, Amsterdam's police chief and the Justice department.
He said consultations between these three, plus the fire department and medical services, were sometimes at cross purposes.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Dutch news