Canada part of huge terror-response drill

Canada to play role in largest terror drill in U.S.

Canada will be part of the largest terrorism drill ever held in the United States, a five-day event that begins Monday and includes simulated biological and radiological attacks on Chicago and Seattle.

Called "Topoff 2," it's the first large-scale test of disaster-response teams across the U.S. and Canada since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

As many as 8,500 people from more than 100 U.S. agencies, the Red Cross and the Canadian government will be involved. It's estimated to cost about $16 million US.

The drill includes two mock events: a dirty bomb explosion in Seattle, and a biological attack in Chicago.

Officials will stage a mock detonation of the bomb in Seattle, which will spread radiation. Officials have hired hundreds of high school students to portray the "victims."

In the second attack, a fictional terrorist cell will release "pneumonic plague" in Chicago. In a test of health-care capabilities, people are expected to arrive at hospitals complaining of flu-like symptoms.

More cases are expected to be reported across the country and in British Columbia, where a planeload of plague "victims" is expected to land.

Government officials from Canada and the U.S. say it will test the co-ordination and communication between the two countries, as well as health-care capabilities.

Paul Kennedy, Canada's senior assistant deputy solicitor general, says the drill is important because events along the U.S. northern border will have an "immediate and direct effect" on Canada.