The civilian war game known as TOPOFF 3 testing the medical response in South New Jersey to an outbreak of pneumonic plague spread by a bioterror attack, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. About 250 mock victims lined up at the Gloucester County health building to receive fake bottles of doxycycline – the antibiotic of choice for fighting plague bacteria.
The exercises came on Day 3 of the nation’s largest-ever terrorism drill – a five-day test conducted in New Jersey and Connecticut and in Canada and Britain. The $16 million TOPOFF, or Top Officials, drill is funded by the federal Department of Homeland Security and is the third national exercise of its kind. The simulated attack involves all 21 counties in New Jersey. One county official said he had learned some valuable lessons from the exercise. For starters, in the event of a real attack, the county health building would not be an ideal location for giving out medicine because the parking lot is too small. Requiring each resident to fill out a medical history form, as they did yesterday, would be too impractical and time-consuming.