N.C. Leaders Discuss State's Terrorism Readiness, Response
Posted November 7, 2001 12:48 p.m. EST
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — The
Fayetteville anthrax scare
is the latest in a series of wake-up calls since Sept. 11. Is North Carolina ready for a terrorist attack of any kind?
The state is getting national attention for its plan to combat terrorism.
The N.C. terrorism task force's plan involves all 100 counties, major hospitals, local fire, rescue and police departments, military units and special Haz-Mat teams. Its goal is quick response to any terrorist attack anywhere in the state.
With terrorism on American soil, the mission of North Carolina's emergency services involves more than just being ready.
"Our mission is to try and pre-empt or defeat any terrorist attack that might be planned for North Carolina," said David Martinez of the FBI.
There have been no terrorist attacks in North Carolina and no confirmed cases of anthrax, however it is the first in the nation to develop a statewide terrorism task force designed to prevent as well as respond to an attack.
"If we are catastrophically impacted, we can rapidly mobilize a mobile field hospital to support an impacted community," said Eric Tolbert of
N.C. Emergency Management
Hospitals are geared to respond to outbreaks of dozens of deadly diseases from smallpox to anthrax. While anthrax is deadly, it is not contagious.
"The biggest issue is fear, and that is the greatest weapon terrorists have," said Rep. Bob Etheridge, D-North Carolina.
"I wish this was something that would be over by next weekend, but I'm afraid what we are talking about is a new reality of life in America," said Bill Roper of the UNC School of Public Health.
North Carolina Congressmen Bob Etheridge and David Price were briefed on the state's readiness on Monday. Congress is working on a $7 billion terrorism response plan that could be patterned after North Carolina's terrorism task force recommendations.