Editor, Valdez Star 

Mock attack on middle school planned for this Saturday

Police and emergency responders will swarm school and other Valdez locations


Gilson Middle School will be the scene of a mock school-shooting drill this Saturday - and Valdez officials are asking people in Valdez to avoid the area.

The drill will bring feature victims who appear to be injured, and include a lot of noises that could be distressing to anyone not made aware of the exercise.

"For your safety and the safety of exercise participants, please avoid the area," the city's drill notice says.

Police and other emergency responders will be on the scene, and the mock victims transported around Valdez.

Weapons - which a notice from the city says are not real - will be used by law enforcement during the drill.

The point of the drill is to practice the response capabilities of local responders in the case of an actual crisis.

The drill is part of Alaska Shield - the statewide readiness-test sponsored by Homeland Security.

"The scenarios and events within the exercise will vary by local jurisdiction, but will all be homeland security-related. Scenarios may include on-scene law enforcement exercises, active shooter exercises, mass search and rescue operations, cyber-attacks, and chemical/biological events," Alaska's Division of Security and Emergency Management said on its website.

Valdez is no stranger to such drills. Over the years, the town - including its residents - has simulated emergency response to various terror attacks, mock earthquakes, biological warfare and school shootings.

"There is no known terrorist or cyber-attack threat targeting Alaska or Alaskans at this time," the state said. "There will be an active shooter exercise event held in various locations around the state to train first responders and community leadership in how to respond if such an event were to occur."

Other communities and agencies will also be conducting exercises the state said.

"In addition, local, State, Federal, and private-sector organizations will be practicing their response to a cyberattack," the state said. "Cyberattacks may include webpage defacement, denial of service, and data theft."

The drill should not actually have a negative impact on people.

"Alaskans should not experience any reduction of service to their private internet services as local, State and Federal internet technology professionals conduct the cyber elements of the exercise," the state said.

Valdez is not the only community participating in the drill.

The state says that 14 jurisdictions and more than 9 state agencies, 12 federal agencies, and 27 Non-Governmental organizations are slated to participate in events all around Alaska, April 1-3.

"Each community participating in Alaska Shield 2016 has established individual training objectives and developed an exercise plan testing their ability to respond locally, and in coordination with state, federal, and non-government response partners," the state said.

The statewide drills have been in the planning stage for two years according to the state's website.


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