Wednesday,  Jan. 14

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City committeemen asked to participate
in emergency response practice  
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[JAN. 14, 2004]  Alderman Buzz Busby said that Lincoln City Council committee members, along with Mayor Beth Davis and other local officials, are being asked to participate in the Emergency Services Disaster Agency drill scheduled for May 8. The practice will be the first of its kind at the local level in the state of Illinois. o be posted

City, county, state and federal agencies will collaborate with local leaders in an effort to protect the public during a series of mock incidents lasting up to 10 hours. This will be a field exercise, and the Crisis Management Center will be opened. Officials, emergency response directors and planning teams will coordinate actions from the Crisis Management Center while others do the work in the field. Communications, as always, will be the key element.

This practice is part of national homeland security directives. All counties in Illinois will be required to do one. Logan County was asked in September by Gov. Blagojevich to host the first bioterrorism practice at the local level that coordinates with all levels of government. The county was chosen based on a list of criteria completed or near completion.

The emphasis of this exercise is on bioterrorism. Handling hazardous material, whether it is a chemical or biological agent, is much the same whether it is an act of terrorism, an industrial, agricultural or other accident. So, the efforts and expense of this exercise have broad and practical applications beyond that of a potential terrorism act.

 

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The difference is that the first emergency responders on a scene must consider if it could be a planned terrorism act. If it is suspect, it will be treated as a crime scene and consideration must be given to the potential for further incidents.

Then first responders will work to protect themselves and care for victims, as usual, but will also act to preserve the crime scene if possible.

In the Crisis Management Center, officials will coordinate actions on the field, attempt to anticipate further complications and make a plan to alert and protect the general public.

This is the basic emergency response protocol for a suspect bioterrorism incident that is being practiced nationwide today.

This practice will entitle the county to request federal Homeland Security funds that the state will receive for distribution to counties. Additional or new emergency equipment can be purchased with those funds.

[Jan Youngquist]

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