Organization of American States conducts bioterror simulation

The Organization of American States recently conducted a bioterrorist attack simulation in Santiago, Chile.

The drill, funded by the Canadian government, took place at Santiago’s Arturo Benitez international airport, according to SantiagoTimes.cl. The airport was chosen because of the large amount of air traffic that flows through it, making the city highly susceptible to airborne contagions.

Six international agencies from Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay took part in the exercise, along with 23 law enforcement agencies from Chile.

“This is being done to help us prepare formal plans or to improve emergency management and crisis for such an attack, and to promote inter-agency coordination,” Chile’s Undersecretary of the Interior Rodrigo Ubilla said, SantiagoTimes.cl reports.

Throughout the drill, which lasted several days, a series of suspicious packages containing what appeared to be Yersinia Pestis, or the bubonic plague, were left throughout the airport. Similar packages were also left at a high-rise hotel in Santiago. The training consisted of at least one false alarm when a plane carrying a sick passenger heads for the airport.

Two days after the first “attack,” the virus appeared to have spread throughout Chile and its neighboring states. In the simulation’s final stage, the participating agencies had to coordinate an international effort to contain it.

The mock attack in Santiago is the first of three major exercises planned by the OAS. The next will take place in March.

The participating states are expected to meet to discuss overall strategies for containing an attack and planning for the additional exercises immediately after the current one ends.

“The meeting will have to do with the creation of a comprehensive public policy that addresses complex issues of our time,” Ubilla said, according to SantiagoTimes.cl. “The issues will require specific protocols and clear definitions in terms of chains of command.”

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