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MILWAUKEE, Wis. - Authorities plan to
simulate a bomb attack in or around Camp Randall stadium next week as part of
the largest emergency-response simulation the state has ever seen.

The exercise Thursday
near downtown Madison will involve more than 400 people from 20 agencies. The
goal is to test how well police, hospitals and first responders coordinate
during a mass-casualty emergency.

"We're going to
make this as realistic as possible," said Marc Lovicott, a spokesman for
University of Wisconsin-Madison police. "People will be made up to look
like real victims, there'll be a real tactical response. We're really trying to
test everything -- see what we're doing well, what we need to improve."

Law enforcement
agencies, hospitals and others conduct exercises to make sure they're ready to
handle crisis situations. They discuss their plans verbally, set up staging
areas to practice specific skills and assemble large-scale simulations like

Simulated emergencies
are common at airports and other places where large numbers of people gather.
Lovicott said he believed this is the first time a crisis simulation was being
conducted at a Wisconsin sporting venue.

Neighbors are being
warned about the event, which will start around 7 a.m. with the sound of an
exploding bomb rumbling through the stadium. Authorities will try to apprehend
at least one individual, Lovicott said, and fire officials may have to respond
to imaginary fires.

Responders aren't
being told much more than that, and will have to figure things out on the fly,
he said.

The scenario is set up
as a bombing during a Fun Run, instead of the far more complicated setting of a
stadium packed during a Saturday football game. The road outside Camp Randall
will be closed off from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. to keep things clear for emergency

The advance
preparations raise a question about accuracy. If a simulation is so carefully
staged, does it really prepare responders for the unpredictable chaos they
could face in real life? For example, in a real emergency spectators might
stampede out of the stadium, traffic jams might prevent authorities from
responding promptly and hysterical bystanders might complicate responses.

There's no way to
fully prepare for a frenzied situation, acknowledged Lt. Tamara Kowalski of the
UW-Madison police department. But the point isn't so much to replicate every
possibility as to make sure that multiple agencies, each with its own set of
policies and response plans, can come together as an efficient team.

The idea for the
simulation came from the UW-Madison police department's emergency management team.
Other agencies involved include Madison police, the Dane County sheriff's
office, the FBI and the American Red Cross.

Barbara Behling, a
spokeswoman for the American Red Cross, said her organization assists in three
to five emergency simulations per year at Wisconsin airports, where roughly 100
to 200 people are involved each time. This effort, involving more than 400
people, will be as large-scale an exercise as the state has seen.

"This will really
test the capacities of everyone involved," she said. "At this point
we think our response plans are really good, but we're always looking at how we
can make them better."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Camp Randall to be site of bomb simulation

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