Florida stages refugee response operations
| 03.05.2007 | 08:28:52 | Views: 2743 | ID:
March 5 '07: Members of Florida's emergency response community, in cooperation with local coastal towns and the Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard will participate in a two-day exercise designed to test responding to a large influx of Caribbean immigrants similar to the Mariel boatlift 1980 "or the Haitian exodus and Cuban rafter crises in 1994," the Palm Beach Post reported.
The exercise, Operation Vigilant Sentry was created by former DHS Secretary Tom Ridge. Sentry's goal was to conglomerate about six other refugee response operations ongoing in 2004. As well as DHS, Coast Guard, and local government officials participating, Secret Service agents will help, the Post reported.Palm Beach County Division of Emergency Management Operations Manager Robert Rehr said the exercise will include "Law enforcement [containing] those people, and fire-rescue workers to see to their needs. ... We will also be testing the coordination of communications and intelligence between the federal, state and local levels." Communication, coordination among responder agencies, and testing computer networks' ability to manage the exercise will be top priorities for Sentry's officials. "In Palm Beach County, the maneuvers could involve simulated landings of refugees in various locales. ... The actors playing the refugees .. will not disembark from boats or rafts, but police, fire rescue and health officials will receive work as if they had just landed."
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