The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday plans to begin a five-day exercise to test government and private-sector information-sharing in response to mock terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. The White House is billing the exercise, called TopOff 2 (for Top Officials 2), as the most comprehensive terrorism-response exercise ever undertaken in the U.S. It will include 19 federal agencies, the American Red Cross and officials from Washington, Illinois, the District of Columbia and Canada. The scenario will consist of near-simultaneous mock attacks involving a radiological device in Seattle and the covert release of a biological agent in Chicago. A key aspect of the exercise will be the ability of state and local officials in the U.S. and Canada to identify medical patients complaining of symptoms that indicate exposure to a biological agent and to communicate that information in a timely manner to other federal and state officials. Full Story
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