Sunday, December 21, 2003

Safety suits on wish list

Protective gear part of city's anti-terror plan

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A Cincinnati-Hamilton County task force is recommending the purchase of protective suits for all 6,000-plus firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel as part of $10.4 million in antiterrorism spending.

The suits will help in case of biological, chemical, explosive or other large-scale attacks, said Cincinnati District Fire Chief Edward Dadosky, a task force member. Right now, he said, a raincoat is some police officers' only protective gear.

"It's difficult to ask anyone to operate on the perimeter of one of these types of incidents if there's even the chance of becoming contaminated," he said.

The cost of the suits is expected to use about $2.5 million of the federal money the city-county Terrorism Preparedness Advisory Team is expecting for 2003, Dadosky said. The remaining $7.9 million will go toward other equipment, supplies, planning and training.

Ohio officials must approve the task force's proposed spending.

Before developing their list, task force members looked at how prepared the county is for a large-scale attack. It concluded it would take $135 million to get all the equipment, training and staffing that's needed, said task force Chairman Peter Hames, a senior county administrator.

"Nonetheless ... the recommended expenditures will measurably enhance the region's ability to respond to a terrorist/weapons of mass destruction incident," Hames said in a memo to county commissioners.

The task force expects to get an additional $12.7 million to divvy up in 2004.

"Just based on world events, we might shift gears" in how the money's spent, Dadosky said. "As things change, we'll change along with them."

Antiterrorism needs

Hamilton County's Terrorism Preparedness Advisory Team has narrowed $135 million in antiterrorism needs down to $10.4 million worth of the most pressing areas. Proposed beneficiaries include:

• Fire/Emergency Medical Services, $4.7 million

• Law enforcement, $3 million

• Hospitals, $799,000

• Red Cross, $100,000

• Coroner's office, $50,000



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