10 days ago, I wrote about the MTA’s plan to increase emergency training. The purpose of the training was to better prepare employees to be able to identify & report suspicious activities as well as deal with crisis situations.
Today reports have started to surface about some of the training. The central message from these sessions was for employees to think like terrorists. To help facilitate this sort of thinking, the employees who were apart of the first session were provided excerpts from seized Al-Qaeda documents.
They were also shown an actual surveillance tape from a thwarted attack in 2001 against U.S. military personnel who depended on buses to get to a transit hub in Singapore. The terrorists saw that certain bike racks at the hub had storage containers & they saw that as a great place to hide explosives. The plan was for the explosives to go off as commuters passed through the hub.
Some more details about the 3 hour session enlighten us that the employees were taught about the following:
How terrorists select targets
How terrorists gather surveillance
How they plan & carry out attacks
An article by New York Daily News transit reporter Pete Donohue shares some more interesting tidbits including more details as to why terrorists focused on that transit hub in Singapore in 2001. Here are some excerpts from the article:
“They do their homework,” Turner, an employe of the EAI Corp., which along with the feds, MTA and the National Transportation Institute created the curriculum. “These plans take days, weeks, months or years.”
The detective also played a dramatization showing a “plot” to bomb a major transportation hub in the U.S. that included some strategies terrorists have used in the past, including extensive surveillance.
In that scenario, a conductor spotted one of the pieces of unattended luggage. A rapid response included the evacuation of passengers and moving the train to a more remote location. Turner said a major thrust of the course was to get transit workers, who in years past griped their training was lacking, to focus on behavior more than exterior appearances.
AMNY also has a featured story about the first emergency training session. Their main transit reporter Marlene Naanes has written an article about the session which includes having a discussion with Q train operator James Gamble. Here are some excerpts from her article:
Q train operator James Gamble is equipped with excerpts of al-Qaida training manuals and a rundown of a terrorist attack in Japan.
The first round of security and emergency response training classes for transit employees began last week, a reiteration of MTA protocol for some, but eye-opening for others. “A lot of it we already do,” Gamble said after a class Wednesday. “Showing people how terrorists plan their attack, that’s new.”
Transport Workers Union Local 100 President Roger Toussaint shared his opinions about the training session by saying:
“For too long, we have stood by ourselves in demanding that transit workers are trained to react and respond to the dangers they face on the job every day. This initiative gives our members some of the tools they need to face the new reality of our transit system after 9/11.”
I personally agree with Roger in saying it is about time. I feel it is quite pathetic that it has taken the MTA & government 6+ years to provide such a detailed training session. These sessions should have happened at worst by the end of 2001! One could argue that months would have been too long. If that is the case, what words can describe a 6+ year delay! This is inexcusable & whomever is responsible for taking this long to implement such a common sense protocol should be fired immediately!