Local News

Triangle First-Responders Seek More Help Preparing For Terrorist Attacks

Posted August 27, 2003 3:58 a.m. EDT

— After the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States government poured billions of dollars into homeland security. But a new survey of first-responders in the Triangle has suggested a major flaw.

Police, fire and EMS crews said they need more help preparing for a terrorist attack.

Before 9-11, firefighters knocked down flames. Police responded to crimes and calls for help. Now, they are all considered first-responders, and they must train to fight terrorism on the home front.

"That requires additional staffing that cities can't fund," Chapel Hill Police Chief Craig Jarvies said. "It means we have to learn a lot more about international law enforcement than we've ever had to learn before."

The survey of Triangle first-responders shows communities don't have the resources they need to do the job effectively -- even in fast-growing Wake County.

"By Wake County being a large county, we should be responsible for assisting others," said Lt. Walter Martin of the Wake County Sheriff's Office. "And the lack of communication hinders that ability."

The Triangle's three Democratic congressmen conducted the survey. They said the Bush Administration has not put enough money into homeland security.

Rep. David Price of the 4th Congressional District said he is irked by what he calls a White House shell game that has shifted money from local governments to pay for the war on terrorism elsewhere.

"If there is any area where this administration has been negligent, that would be at the top of the list," Price said.

The first-responders said the Triangle faces at least a moderate risk of a terrorist attack because of its size, research facilities, international airport, major universities and a nuclear power plant. Given that risk, the first-responders said it is time they got more federal money to train and prepare.