US Ran Sochi Emergency Simulation, Found Flaws in Russian Contingency Plans


A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow did not respond to repeated requests for comment, but Dan Richards, the CEO of the evacuation and emergency planning company Global Rescue, expressed confidence in Russia's ability to respond adequately.

"It's easy to criticize or find any holes in any plan," Richards said.

His company has been hired by the U.S. Ski Team to evacuate its athletes in Sochi in case of an emergency, but he stressed that it was not involved in the embassy's simulation and had no knowledge of its findings.

"The Russians have done everything possible to prevent and mitigate the effects of an attack," he told ABC News.

He also dismissed some of the American criticism, namely that Russian authorities would have trouble communicating in an emergency if the cell phone network were overloaded.

Richards called the idea "ridiculous."

"I'd be very surprised if they did not have methods to communicate amongst themselves," he said.

By all accounts, Russian authorities have deployed a massive security presence that would spring into action during a crisis. Yet emergency experts say an effective response plan is not just the sum of its parts, but rather how well they work together during a crisis.

Retired Marine Col. Steven Ganyard, an ABC News consultant who has worked on emergency response planning in California, said training is critical.

"It's all well and good to have lots of capabilities in place but if they have never worked together then there is little chance they will work well in an actual emergency," he said. "There has to be practice and exercise to be credible. Static plans won't work."

U.S. officials point to Russia's response to previous emergencies as one reason they are worried.

In 2002, Chechen militants seized the Dubrovka Theater in Moscow, taking 912 people hostage. After negotiations failed, Russian counter-terrorism forces filled the building with a potent sleeping gas, allowing them to storm the building and kill the terrorists. But 130 of the hostages died from effects of the gas because authorities had not planned to have ambulances or the antidote on hand.

Raymond Mey, a former FBI agent who helped develop security plans at the past seven Olympics, said Russian security officials have traditionally not invested in emergency response planning as much as their American counterparts.

"I would bet my pension on the fact that the Russians are not that committed to the same level of accountability that we are held to in the U.S. as a result of the failures of 9/11, hurricane Katrina etc," he told ABC News by e-mail.

"The Russians have not developed this same organizational capability to respond to crisis incidents," said Mey, now is president of his own security firm, Security Consultants International Corporation.

U.S. officials have repeatedly offered to help with security and emergency preparations. American security authorities invited Russian officials to the Super Bowl in 2012 to show them how the United States handles security at major sporting events. While it's unclear whether Russian authorities have used anything they learned there, broader cooperation has been elusive.

U.S. officials say Russia has yet to take them up on the offers.

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