Feb 272003
Authors: Patrick Crossland

In the case of a terrorist attack, the public’s best weapon is common sense.

That is what Mayor Ray Martinez is encouraging the public to use if Fort Collins were to be the target of a terrorist attack.

“Keen awareness is more important than anything else,” he said. “Use a common sense approach.”

Paying attention to news alerts, having bags prepared for an overnight stay and having accessible potable water are easy ways to be prepared for the unpredictable.

“Prepare just like you would for a natural disaster,” Martinez said. “It’s really a self check.”

Early in February congress allotted 3.5 billion dollars intended to provide equipment and training to local police and fire departments, according to the New York Times. That money has sat on capital hill since fall and according to Martinez, that package has since been cut in half. Regardless, Martinez remains confident about preparations made in case of an emergency.

Preparation for a terrorist attack has been done with reason and common sense, Martinez said.

Fort Collins is equipped with a hazardous materials team, two command post sites, a mobile command post unit, and an emergency management team.

The mobile command post unit takes the shape of a large Winnebago, outfitted with systems capable of connecting multiple agencies via radio, interrupting T.V. connections and calling everyone in the town simultaneously.

All emergency responders know how to deal with a chemical attack as well as other forms of terrorism Martinez said.

“We have a lot of things in place,” he said. “All emergency personnel will have emergency respirators.”

Financially, Fort Collins is prepared with mutual aid support and is capable of aiding other jurisdictions financially in the case of an attack.

The likelihood of an attack on Fort Collins is slim, Martinez said. He stressed we are more likely to have a natural disaster than a terrorist attack.

“We are prepared to deal with all levels of emergency,” he said.

Though the exact measures remain veiled for reasons of security, the Fort Collins police are, “taking the appropriate measures to ensure public safety,” in the case of a terrorist attack, said Rita Davis, spokesperson for the Fort Collins Police Services.

Since the terrorist attacks on the East Coast on Sept. 11, 2001, the Larimer County Sheriffs Office has had certain measures in place, such as the patrolling of damns to ensure security, said Eloise Campanella, press information officer for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

Despite the recent lowering of the government threat level to an “elevated” risk of terrorist attack, some CSU students aren’t worried.

“It’s too small a target, it’s unimportant,” said Joel Malander, a Mechanical engineering final year graduate. “Nobody in their right mind would attack something unimportant.”

Malander isn’t rushing out to buy a gas mask.

“A lot of it is based on fear, in a bigger city it might be important, but not in Fort Collins,” he said.

Like Malander, Sarah Bean, a junior social work major, said she is not worried about an attack on Fort Collins.

“We’re not a major city in the U.S.,” she said.

When asked if she felt prepared for a possible attack, she said, “Spiritually and emotionally I feel prepared, but there is no way I can prepare physically.” “

“I’m not going to build a bomb shelter,” Bean said.

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