A major emergency training exercise simulating a terrorist attack has taken place in Dublin to prepare authorities in the event of a potential incident in the Irish capital.
Garda specialist personnel, first-responders and some 50 actors were involved in playing out a fake attack on the grounds of Dublin City University’s campus on Friday evening.
The Garda led the multi-agency training exercise, which involved specialist police response units, the National Ambulance Service, the Defence Forces and Dublin Fire Brigade.
Two members of the elite Garda Emergency Response Unit participated in a terror training exercise in Dublin last night
The police unit, along with 50 actors and members of the fire and ambulance service participated in the training exercise which was planned to respond to a terrorist attack on Dublin City University’s campus on the city’s north side
Different garda units were involved in the exercise, including unarmed officers – who would most likely be the first on scene of a genuine terrorist attack, followed by regional firearms units and then the elite Emergency Response Unit
It was designed to test the response capabilities of Ireland’s primary responders.
The staged university attack started with a car being driven into by-standers on the campus.
At first it was reported to Garda control centre as a road traffic collision but within minutes it was elevated to a terrorism incident when a number of assailants exited the car and starting stabbing and shooting people.
In the real-time tiered response system, local Garda units responded followed by members of the Armed Support Unit and the Emergency Response Unit, as well as multiple ambulances and Dublin Fire Brigade units.
One of the assailants was shot dead in the simulation before two other terrorists retreated into a nearby a building and took a number of people hostage.
As part of the training exercise, armed gardai stormed the building and they managed to shoot the two assailants and retrieve the hostages safely.
Gardai described the exercise, dubbed Operation Barracuda, a success. The focus of the exercise was on saving lives. All of the hostages were liberated.
It was designed to replicate the resources that would by typically available on a Friday night.
Actors played the role of rampaging terrorists who shot bystanders in the university campus near Ballymun in Dublin
These ERU officers are shielded behind a motorised ballistic shield as they clear a corridor on the university campus
The simulated exercise was designed to test the level of communication between the different emergency service agencies
Donal O’Driscoll from the Garda’s special tactics and operations command said one of the reasons it had gone well was because Ireland was ahead of the curve when it came to identifying potential issues responding to an attack because the Garda was operationally experienced in counter-terrorism.
He said they had also adopted successful strategies that police in France and UK had found useful during actual terrorist incidents in those countries.
Deputy Garda Commissioner John Twomey said the agencies had come together to prepare for a potential real-life emergency.
He said: ‘It’s about how communications work in a real life incident.
‘We know there would be difficulties and challenges, we know that information would be changing by the second. It’s about how we manage all that.’
Gardai said they had adapted strategies used by police in France and the UK when dealing with terror attacks
Assistant Garda Commissioner John Twomey said the exercise was very important as each of the agencies involved had been training on their own for the past 18 months and have the opportunity to co-ordinate their activities
At first it was reported to Garda control centre as a road traffic collision but within minutes it was elevated to a terrorism incident when a number of assailants exited the car and starting stabbing and shooting people
Superintendent Liam Geraghty said the terrorism threat in Ireland remains at moderate although it is kept under review
Here, two gardai appear to be moving one of the actors playing the part of a suspected terrorist who has been wounded
The exercise started initially as a reported road traffic accident which escalated into a full scale terrorist attack
He said each agency had prepared for the training exercise individually over the past 18 months but the simulation was about making sure they can work together quickly and effectively.
Commissioner Twomey added: ‘It’s hugely important and critically important that we know the challenges we’re going to face and the only way we can do it is by doing exercises like these.’
Superintendent Liam Geraghty said important lessons can be learned from such simulations.
He said: ‘We learn what’s may have gone wrong and what has gone right and we learn and develop a framework going forward.’
He said the current threat level of a terrorist attack in Ireland had remained unchanged at moderate.
He added: ‘The threat level here for Ireland at the moment remains at moderate which means an attack is always possible but is unlikely at this stage.
‘But we always keep that under review.’
The training exercise took place in Dublin City University’s campus yesterday evening. Gardai warned locals to expect a heavy police presence and not to be concerned about the increased activity
Planners wanted the exercise to escalate from a normal policing incident to a terrorist attack to replicate the confusion of a real incident
Teams of gardai cleared areas of the college while their colleagues evacuated casualties outside for medical attention
The training exercise , named Operation Barracuda, took place in Dublin City University last night. The ‘blood’ in this image is not real
This ERU Officer is carrying a hand-held ballistic shield to protect him from bullets fired by a terrorist