In wake of Canada attacks, Toronto police drill for disaster

Police officers put on gas masks during a “mock crisis response” exercise in Toronto, October 26, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

(Reuters) – About 100 police, firefighters and other emergency workers held a disaster-response drill in downtown Toronto’s deserted financial district on Sunday following a week that saw two soldiers killed on Canadian soil.

Security in normally relaxed Canada has been tighter in the days since a gunman shot dead a soldier in Ottawa before charging into the parliament building and another man ran over two soldiers with a car, killing one, outside Montreal.

Toronto emergency responders donned oxygen tanks and yellow full-body hazardous material suits shortly after dawn, set up decontamination tents and practiced how they would respond in an office tower that had received a suspicious package.

The drill had long been planned and was not a reaction to the twin attacks that police said had been carried out by men they described as home-grown radicals, officials said.

Some acknowledged that it took on a more urgent tone in the wake of those incidents.

“We had to be very specific with our strategic briefing after what happened in Ottawa,” said Daniel Martin, a staff sergeant with the Toronto Police Department, as fireman ran hoses across a plaza outside an office tower across the street from the Toronto Stock Exchange…