Gamma Shield Silent Thunder Nuclear Terrorism Exercise Concludes
(HSToday) An exercise program called Silent Thunder, which directly addresses the dangers of nuclear terrorism, which was developed and conducted in partnership by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and FBI, today concluded the Gamma Shield Thunder counterterrorism drill.
The Gamma Shield Thunder table-top exercise was conducted at LDS Hospital — a general urban hospital and surgical center in Salt Lake City, Utah — as part of NNSA’s Silent Thunder table-top series which is designed to provide federal, state and local officials, first responders and law enforcement critical, hands-on experience in responding to a terrorist attack involving radiological materials.
The NNSA began the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Counterterrorism Exercise Program in 1999, and it’s grown to include both domestic Department of Energy facilities and private sector locations such as hospitals and universities. The exercises have been carried out primarily within the United States, but have included foreign participants as well.
To date, NNSA and FBI have conducted Silent Thunder exercises in 22 states and the District of Columbia, with plans to reach additional states in the future.
The exercise series recognizes that reducing the risk of radiological or nuclear terrorism requires a whole-of-community approach that brings together officials and responders from the federal, state, local and facility levels.
“I was really impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm the folks from facility, local and state emergency services,” said Derek Estes, who led the federal team that organized the exercise. “We’ve seen a real growth in readiness across the emergency management community we work with nationally.”
This Gamma Shield Thunder exercise played out a fictitious scenario in which terrorists attempted to seize control of high-activity radiological sources by infiltrating hospital facilities. The participating officials worked cooperatively to assess and respond to simulated facility alarms and then manage the crisis as if it were actually happening.
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