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Ref: University of Pittsburgh HLS virtual program helps to pool resources and data for emergency response


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Disaster Simulator Prepares Local Officials In Case Of Emergency

POSTED: 3:30 pm EDT October 30, 2007
UPDATED: 6:29 pm EDT October 30, 2007

PITTSBURGH -- Sept. 11, 2001, was a wake-up call for western Pennsylvania with terrorism hitting close to home, but it's far from the only crisis that can cripple our region.
So, one local group is getting Pittsburgh ready for the worst-case scenario with a high-tech exercise that will prepare officials for a real, large-scale emergency.
WTAE Channel 4 Action News got an exclusive look at the exercise, which is designed to give decision makers the skills they will need to deal with disasters ranging from massive power outages to the threat of bio-terrorism.

"We are probably not going to be able to prevent everything from happening, and we're probably not going to prevent every single piece of critical infrastructure," said Jim Powers, the Pennsylvania director of Homeland Security. "We have, but we must be able to respond and recover."
The University of Pittsburgh's Center of National Preparedness has created a way to place local decision makers into a virtual version of an emergency response center.
"We were able to build a virtual emergency operations center simulator, so this is as real as we could get," said Dr. Ken Sochats of the CNP.
In one virtual scenario, business leaders are confronted with an emergency situation on a Steelers Sunday, which is a situation that's constantly changing.
But while the exercise educates, it doesn't guarantee success in a real disaster situation.

Copyright 2007 by ThePittsburghChannel. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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