Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard Codey says people should not panic at the sights and sounds of a mock terrorism exercise that will kick off in New Jersey on Monday, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. “You might hear about something strange at your local hospital, you might see first responders in hazardous material suits or a large number of ambulances in your area,” he said. “Don’t be alarmed. We don’t want this to turn into ‘War of the Worlds.'”
The drill is part of a national exercise called TopOff 3. It will involve more than 10,000 employees from federal, state, and local agencies in New Jersey, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Canada, and the United Kingdom. The exercise Monday, will test how well law enforcement and health workers gather intelligence, share information, respond to an ongoing emergency, and recover from it. The five-day drill in New Jersey will begin with a fake biological agent being unleashed. More than 5,000 volunteers acting as seriously ill patients infected by the bioterrorism bug are expected to swarm the state’s 82 acute care hospitals as part of the drill. The Department of Health and Senior Services will have to decide whether to require the widespread distribution of antibiotics. The Bush administration slashed $12 million from antiterror grants intended for Newark and Jersey City this year, a move that state officials have criticized. “The two most dangerous miles in America, according to the FBI, are in New Jersey,” Codey said.