Emergency management officials prepare for the worst

Earlier this week Federal officials captured a U.S. citizen with suspected ties to al Qaeda who allegedly planned to build and explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" in the United States.

According to reports, the bomb was intended for Washington.

Although Muncie is miles away, Delaware County community officials are taking terrorism and local security very seriously.

"On the surface, no, I never felt that Muncie is on the crossfire for International terrorists," Bill Gosnell, director of the Delaware County Emergency Management Agency said. "I don't think Muncie is at a particularly high risk for attack."

Gosnell did say, however, that another terrorist attack on the United States is almost a certainty and it will be just as shocking as the first time.

Although Muncie is not thought to be a targeted area, Gosnell said safety plans are being reformatted and improved constantly and a group of people are working with radiological training defense programs.

"We have dusted off the radiation monitors from during the Cold War and are making them readily available and putting them back on the street," Gosnell said.

He said that if a bomb were to go off in downtown Muncie, the device would be able to detect immediately any harmful radiation.

Recently, terrorism has dominated national headlines. Gosnell said terrorism has been a problem for some time now, but lately the information has been made more public.

"Terrorism has always been this easy," he said. "Now the public is just more aware of it."

Europe and other countries have dealt with terrorist activity for decades, Gosnell said, while the United States was spared for some reason.

Gosnell said although we aren't at the same level of danger as Israel, which deals with terrorist attacks on a daily basis, we may be heading in that direction.

"Israel has some of the best security measures in the world," Gosnell said. "If they can't stop it how can we?"

Should another attack occur, Muncie will be ready.

The Delaware County EMA is changing the way they plan, Gosnell said.

Gosnell said the Delaware County response plan has been formatted to fit the state plan, which coincides with the Federal plan, resulting in a more unified ability to function if an emergency does come about.

"Basically, so we will all be on the same sheet of music."

There are 18 emergency support functions including the Public Works Committee, Law Enforcement Agency, Fire Fighters, Animal Emergency and the Health and Medical group.

Key players from each group met last Friday to test aspects of Delaware County's Terrorism Response Plan. The group of community officials discussed the strengths and weaknesses of the plan.

"We want to make sure our community is an oiled machine that is ready for anything," Gosnell said.

The events that occurred on Sept. 11 were tragic, but Gosnell said it caused the American people to be more alert.

"Twelve months ago we probably wouldn't have caught that guy (Pedilla)," Gosnell said. "We wouldn't have tolerated extra baggage checks at the airport or other heightened security measures. We would have complained of them infringing on our personal freedoms.

"Now, our perspective is different, we don't see it as an intrusion, we see it as a help."


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