Christmas plans should not be changed because of the elevated terrorist warnings, said Clay County Emergency Management Director Gerri Husband this morning.
"I imagine terrorists would thrive on the idea they could affect our way of life," she said, when asked how Clay County residents should respond to Sunday's announcement that the terrorist threat level has been raised by the Department of Homeland Security. "People should always pay attention to their surroundings."
The elevated status means different things to different agencies, Husband said. Police agencies may want more information or different kinds of information about suspicious activity; ambulance drivers may become more careful about locking doors when they exit ambulances and fire departments may be more careful to close fire truck bay doors. But, Husband said she could not speak on their behalf.
The Brazil Times plans to follow up with emergency service providers in future news stories.
"When the terror alert goes higher, all it means on the local level is we become more aware of what is going on around us," Husband said. "It doesn't change the way we do business."
Clay County will fulfill a state-mandated emergency exercise on Jan. 6, a meeting planned before Sunday's announcement. Emergency service providers, such as police and firefighters, have been notified and asked to send representatives to the meeting. The exercise is not open to the public.
A company, hired by the state, will provide information specific to Clay County. Attendees will walk through suggested ways to handle a chemical event.
"Preparation is not just for terrorism," Husband said. "People think we are in a rural area and therefore we don't need to be concerned about terrorism. But, terrorism preparation can be tailored to any event."
So, how prepared are we?
"Each time we meet, review, or plan, we become better prepared," she said.
Meetings allow representatives of various agencies to interact and get to know what other agencies can offer in a time of crisis, and what they need.
Husband said the July storm provided valuable lessons. Even though the agencies did a good job, weaknesses became evident. One lesson learned was that Cinergy must have portable radios in its trucks so the electric company's employees can communicate directly with emergency responders, such as firefighters. Now, the challenge is to determine where the money will come from to purchase those radios.
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