Public Information Officer
Grand Island Fire Co.
Buffalo Police Capt. Gregg Blosat conducted a special terrorism exercise for members of the local fire and police services, as well as Grand Island town officials at Grand Island Fire Co. headquarters on Monday evening, Nov. 28.
"Stay Alert, Stay Alive" was the resounding theme throughout this informative presentatiion, which covered the ever present dangers of domestic and international terrorism. Blosat stressed that first responders are a primary target of those fanatics who intend to inflict maximum damage and loss of life. During the past decade or so, such acts have cropped up everywhere indiscriminately and must be recognized as part of the tremendous burden faced by those who have dedicated their lives to community protection. First responders must be alert for unusual or suspicious objects encountered during an emergency response. Hidden hazards such as vehicle borne improvised explosive devices, booby traps, pipe bombs, chemical weapons such as Ricin, etc., must be identified and isolated by establishment of a safety zone as soon as possible so that mass casualties can be minimized or totally eliminated. He aslo noted that first responders face increased dangers from unstable chemical compounds and their reactions that are associted with illegal meth labs where a medical emergency or explosion may require their presence. Such contaminated environments will hamper potential lifesaving or firefighting efforts because first responder safety is considered a paramount priority.
"You can't help someone else if you become an additional victim," Blosat said.
A hands-on demonstration of hazardous devices and explosive scenarios highlighted the precautionary lesson for all first responders: be aware of your surrounding at all times, exercise restraint under any and all suspicious circumstances, and your chances of saving the lives of others as well as your own will be that much greater.
In addition, a valuable resource on this subject is a publication by the International Association of Fire Chiefs titled "Terrorism Response for Fire Chiefs," which is available online.