WILLIAMSPORT — An annual exercise for emergency responders in the Williamsport area scheduled for next week be based on a scenario that seems out of a science fiction movie: a drone attack during the Little League World Series.
The mock attack Thursday will be based on a scenario in which drones disperse a chemical agent over a crowded stadium, followed by more drones dropping explosive devices as fans rush to the exits.
The exercise will be conducted on vacant land adjacent to the Williamsport Medical Center between 8 a.m. and noon. Nothing is planned to occur at the Little League complex in South Williamsport.
The drill will include use of a command center and two drones to provide a touch of realism.
Vital signs of “patients” will be checked at the scene just like a real emergency, said the health system’s emergency preparedness coordinator, Jim Slotterback said.
“It’s really neat to work with so many agencies,” he said. He estimates more than 300 people, including the National Guard, will be involved in some aspect of the exercise.
“It helps we are getting the chance to work with all the players at Little League,” said South Williamsport Police Chief Robert Hetner, who helps coordinate world series security.
“It gives us the chance to tweet some things and get ready for another year,” he said. The world series this year is Aug. 18-28.
The health system has a de-contamination center that has never been tested, hence the decision to include a hazardous materials component in the drill, said the system’s emergency preparedness coordinator, Jim Slotterback.
By training together, everyone will be more comfortable should something happen, said FBI agent Juan A. Grajales Jr. who is in charge of the Williamsport office.
“It makes us more efficient,” he said. “We try to catch any gaps that are identified.” Given the importance of the series, “we want to cover all bases,” he said.
“It’s all about safety. The more we practice together, the better off we all are.”
Planning for the exercise began last year during the world series, Slotterback said. An early idea was for a crop dusting plane to disperse a chemical agent over the crowd, he said.
A drone attack entered the picture after he said he learned about someone in New England strapping a gun to drone and discharging the weapon in the air.