Israel to simulate biological warfare attack

Haaretz (Link) - Anshel Pfeffer (January 5, 2010)

An exercise simulating a response to a biological warfare attack will be carried out in the Dan region next week.

The exercise, which will be the largest of its kind in Israel's history, will be carried out in Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, and Holon and aims to evaluate the ability of the Home Front, the medical services, rescue teams and the municipal authorities to respond in the conditions created by a biological catastrophe caused either by terrorists or by accident.

The exercise, code named Orange Flame, will be held on Wednesday and Thursday next week, and rescue units of the Home Front Command and special detection units of the Health Ministry, will be tasked to locate the biological hazard and deal with hundreds of citizens who were hypothetically exposed to the substance.

Major hospitals, like Ichilov, Tel Hashomer and Sheba, as well as health maintenance organization clinics will prepare to receive the injured in the simulated incident.

Three centers for the reception of those affected will be set up at Beit Dani in Tel Aviv, at Winter Stadium in Ramat Gan, and at the Holon Country Club, where more than 1,000 volunteers will be sent.

The volunteers have been trained to behave like people who have been exposed to biological agents, and they will receive treatment at the three centers. The purpose of the exercise is to "train the country to deal with biological terrorism attacks," according to Brigadier General (res.) Ze'ev Snir, who is the defense minister's special assistance on the subject.

"The first challenge is to contain the damage as much as possible and then to identify the material involved so it will be possible to continue with normal life," according to Danny Laor, head of emergency services at the Health Ministry.

Both officials spoke at a press briefing on the planned exercise.