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Local Law Enforcement Combine for Massive Emergency Drill in Dallas This Morning

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We may not have Detective Dan Stark out there to protect us anymore, but this morning a handful of local agencies put their guns together to see how they'd handle responding to a major attack on the city.

Dallas Fire-Rescue, Dallas Police (including SWAT teams and a bomb squad) and medical services ran through a trio of simulated attacks, in fact, beginning at the Dallas Convention Center this morning and ending early this afternoon at Fair Park. The full-scale exercise was coordinated by the Office of Emergency Management. DFR Lt. Joel Lavender was tasked with herding media around this morning and said the whole simulation, based on a script of events provided by Northrop Grumman Corp., was the largest Dallas has seen in a long time.

Certain players in the response were given secret roles to help add twists to throw other responders for a loop -- letting it unfold like a citywide murder mystery party. Lavender preferred a different metaphor: "This is our Christmas show," he said. "This has been in the planning stages for months and months."

And just like a real Christmas pageant, some people scored more awesome roles than others -- like the crowd of simulated casualties that zombie-walked out of buses and over to a makeshift triage center, some with bloody faces or fake bone splinters sticking out of their shins.

With observers from DART, Dallas ISD, FEMA, FBI and various other agencies looking on, the exercise got rolling a little after 9, with reports of shots fired inside the convention center. While it must've been a thrill-a-minute law enforcement roller coaster inside the hall, there was considerably less to see from our choice perch a few hundred feet from the entrance.

We got a look at a series of SWAT teams moving past the doors and up the escalators, and a few minutes later DFR evacuated a pair of DART buses that had been idling outside the convention center. A few ambulances drove off with the worst of the simulated casualties, and then everyone packed up for the Dallas Fire Academy and the exercise's second phase.

Lavender said they'd hear early next year about how everyone did.

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