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Cities work on communication

Burbank hosts demonstration on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack.

July 29, 2010|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/News-Press )

Burbank and Glendale officials on Wednesday participated in a countywide demonstration of how regional agencies would communicate after the detonation of an improvised nuclear device.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security worked with the local agencies in Burbank, which served as the backdrop for Operation Golden Phoenix-2010 — a culmination of four months of training sessions.

The Los Angeles County Operational Area serves 15 million people in 88 cities and more than 200 special districts, including schools, sanitation and water districts, making it the largest in the state.

Simulating the danger posed in the event of the detonation of a 10-kiloton improvised nuclear device in Los Angeles, firefighters, hazardous material units, law enforcement, public health departments and emergency managers came together to coordinate communication and share critical information.

Burbank was chosen for the only live demonstration in the county because of its dedicated hazardous materials team and the information-sharing that already exists between Glendale and Burbank, officials said.

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"Burbank has always been on the cutting edge of being proactive about training instead of just being reactive," Burbank Councilman and former firefighter Jess Talamantes said Wednesday afternoon. "We need to keep training so that if something happens, we can just react because we know exactly what to do."

Department of Homeland Security officials said that when the first responder arrives at the scene, they need to be able to communicate whatever readings or information they gather immediately to other officials and experts.

"During the first few hours, the local officials are on their own," said Teresa Lustig, program manager for the Department of Homeland Security's Science and Technology Directorate. "They know that federal help will arrive later in an event like this, but they need to be able to communicate and respond to the situation with local resources initially."

The integrated real-time sensor technology displayed Wednesday is intended to take the guesswork out of the equation so that decision makers can rely on the most accurate and up-to-date information available, officials said.

"This is not a special-event-only system," said Dave Lamsensdorf, president of Safe Environmental Engineering. "This equipment, which was not initially designed to work together, can be used to deal with day-to-day activities such as chemical spills or hazardous material situations."

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