Disaster training has paid off

Local and Kitsap County officials have had "disaster drills" for years. They hoped they would never need to implement those plans. Now we know that all the planning paid big dividends.

ocal and Kitsap County officials have had a wide range of emergency preparedness training for many years. Mock disaster drills have been conducted for fire, police, medical and government and school officials. At each of the training sessions, the unspoken message was that they would hopefully “never need” this training––but that they should be prepared for any eventuality.

The training has paid off in ways that most of us will never know or appreciate:

• On Sept. 11, when local officials first learned of the nationwide terrorism alert, a pre-existing countywide plan was promptly put into place to protect local military bases, ferries, bridges, highways, ports and schools. By all accounts, the plan worked well, officials knew their responsibilities and carried them out efficiently.

• County emergency officials are continuing to provide outstanding service in ways they never could have anticipated. All local law enforcement agencies are receiving an increase in calls as jumpy, nervous citizens phone to ask about mysterious planes flying overhead, sounds of explosions, suspicious neighbors or activities, or other concerns. Local fire stations are responding to questions about Anthrax or other bio-hazards ––not in a normal day’s work just a few weeks ago.

More than ever, we have grown to appreciate how dependent we are on our emergency crews and law enforcement officials. Fortunately, we have also learned how depe

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