In the hours before Hurricane Sandy hit the region, several area SWAT teams descended upon the Air Liquide chemical facility on Steel Road West in Falls for a large training operation.
The drill involved multiple dangerous situations that brought together patrol and specially trained officers. Emergency medical personnel were also involved in the exercise.
SWAT units comprised of officers from Bristol, Bensalem, Falls and Philadelphia handled a active shooting situation in the Air Liquide offices.
Behind the brick office building, hazmat SWAT officers drilled on how to deal with a tactical situation involving dangerous chemicals. The team was tasked with shutting a chemical valve during a hostile incident.
Hazmat and Major Incident Response Team members were plucked from departments throughout the county.
Falls police Detective Nelson Whitney acted as the operation’s public information officer. From a command post, he briefed reporters from Patch and the Courier Times every 30 minutes on new developments about the unfolding situation.
As the clock neared 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27, negotiations with the mock armed subject failed and tactical operators from Philadelphia and Lower Bucks County breached the building. Minutes later, officers had their suspect in custody.
Officials spoke of how the 4-hour drill was a first of its kind.
Mike Rosen, a spokesman for Air Liquide, said the company trains for emergencies regularly and was pleased to be part of the recent training session with local police first responders.
The Bucks County Local Emergency Planning Committee and the Department Homeland Security worked for months with local police to plan the drill, which followed a timed script.
Falls board Chairman Bob Harvie, Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia were on hand to watch the training take place.