|Seminars Focus On Communities Dealing With Terrorism |
Seminars Focus On Communities Dealing With Terrorism
Robins Air Force Base, Ga. May 11, 2000 (AFPN) -- Fallout from the Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings has prompted the federal government to seek closer working relations with state and local emergency response agencies.
To get the dialogue started, the U.S. Department of Justice has developed an ongoing series of four-day seminars designed to bring together the people who will be called on to handle terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction.
During the first two weeks of May, representatives from Air Force Reserve Command's explosive ordnance disposal and fire departments as well as other federal, state and local agencies attended seminars at Robins.
Seminar topics included understanding terrorism as well as terrorists' motivations, methods and means of attack; identifying terrorist incidents; planning for and initiating cooperative management of the situation or its consequences; and understanding state and federal governments' capabilities and responsibilities to assist local jurisdictions.
"Use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists used to happen to someone else," said Cecil Ware, a training specialist with the Texas Engineering Extension Service, part of the Texas A & M University System in College Station, Texas. "Now it's happening to us. It used to be that we dealt with pipe bombs and we still do. But now we are having to deal with much more sophisticated bombs."
In addition to explosives, WMDs include poison gas, disease organisms and radioactive material.
Ware's organization is a member of the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, a partnership of public universities and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Energy. Established June 11, 1998, the consortium supports the Justice Department's Office for State and Local Domestic Preparedness Support. The OSLDPS assists state and local emergency response agencies with training, exercise support, technical assistance and funds to purchase specialized equipment.
"It's good to get everyone together for this kind of training," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Walp, fire chief for the 944th Civil Engineering Squadron, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "I want us to host the same kind of workshop in Phoenix for civilian and military firefighters."
In addition to 30 Reserve firefighters at Luke, the city of Phoenix has 1,400 civilian firemen, according to Walp, who has worked for the city's fire department for 24 years.
Master Sgt. Brad McKinney of the 94th Airlift Wing's EOD at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Ga., said the seminar provided a good overview of responsibility. "I now have a better idea of what we can and cannot provide to the community," he said.
Other agencies represented at this seminar included the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms; the Georgia Bureau of Investigation; Warner Robins and Houston County fire, emergency medical service and police; and Robins AFB police and EOD.
Don Warner, chief of the fire protection branch at Headquarters AFRC, worked with Warner Robins Fire Chief Robert Singletary to sponsor the seminar at the Robins.
"WMD just became a prominent issue in the Air Force," said Warner, who attended a class at Texas A & M last fall. "We want to know before hand what to expect. Fire and law enforcement are usually the ones to arrive on scene first. They have to be able to cope with the situation.
"The focus of this course is to get people to think about hazardous material that is intentionally released rather than by accident. In some cases responders will be working together for the first time, and a unified command structure is essential for things to go as smoothly as possible." (Courtesy of AFRC News Service)
** Air Force Reserve Command