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Terror attack simulation in city
A mock terror exercise in Birmingham which is being carried out to test the emergency services' response to a chemical attack in a public place
Emergency services are responding to a simulated terrorist attack in a city centre as part of a major European exercise.
A chemical was released inside Birmingham's International Convention Centre where 150 volunteers were at a conference as part of a research project looking at public responses to extreme events.
The group had been told beforehand that they would be taking part in an emergency services exercise but not given exact details.
Around a third were told ahead of time what would happen and given roles to play - some as a terrorist, some exhibiting symptoms of nerve agent, for example.
Researchers from King's College London will look at and analyse the reaction of those inside the venue to help identify practices and procedures that can make emergency response more effective.
Co-ordinated by West Midlands Police in conjunction with CBRNE Ltd, the exercise is also an opportunity for blue-light services and the local authority to evaluate emergency procedures in the West Midlands.
The choice of scenario and location does not imply that such an event is either likely or imminent, but will allow those involved to gain valuable information on people's responses and requirements, which in turn will help develop emergency procedures.
It is the first of three exercises across Europe over the next two years as part of an EU-funded initiative to improve the preparedness and resilience of member states to a terrorist attack.
The other exercises will be in Sweden next year and Poland in 2015.
Chief Superintendent Chris McKeogh said: "This exercise provides a great opportunity for all of those involved to look at procedures in place for an emergency such as this and put them into action. This way, we can evaluate more effectively where we need to further develop our plans and procedures."