By: Brian Wolfson
In an ever-changing world, Broward County residents must stay prepared for what seems like daily reports of mass tragedy events and violence.
In December, as an official observer, Broward County Commissioner Michael Udine, who represents Parkland, witnessed a large-scale simulation of a mass tragedy called Operation Homefront at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL).
The simulation was conducted in a joint effort by the Broward County Emergency Management, the Broward Sheriff’s Office, safety professionals at FLL, and local first responders.
“Keeping our community safe isn’t a one-person job, and that is why it is so important for all our public safety professionals to cooperate,” said Commissioner Udine.
At Operation Homefront, volunteers from the community prepared as mass casualty victims, complete with simulated gunshot wounds and injuries. Drill participants stayed on their toes with a hostage exercise and bomb threat, and participants were drilled in mass casualty transport, incident command, staging, and public communication.
Attended by observers from the community, the drill was filmed for use in future training. Video footage from Operation Homefront will be used to update the training modules used by airport employees during emergency training.
According to Commissioner Udine, “I wanted to witness Operation Homefront and see what our first responders go through in an emergency situation.”
Mandated by the FAA, drills like Operation Homefront take place at airports all over the nation. While the FAA mandates certain types of exercises, Broward County does more in both scope and numbers than required. Not only are exercises like these are paramount to public safety, but preparedness plans are also vital to being ahead of the curve, and there is value in knowing that our public safety professionals are training with real-time simulations for review and evaluation.
Said Udine, “Keeping our local law enforcement, emergency operations professionals and FLL staff prepared is of utmost importance so that we can keep Broward County safe.”
Brian Wolfson is an intern for the Office of County Commissioner Michael Udine, District 3, and a Senior at Florida International University.