Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to create fear among the public, to try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, and to get immediate publicity for their causes. Terrorism may take many different forms and terrorists may use biological, chemical, nuclear, incendiary, or explosive materials.
Since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, all Americans have become more conscious of the threat terrorism poses. While the threat to Waukesha County is small, all citizens can become more vigilant and aware of the threat of terrorism.
Waukesha County Preparedness
Waukesha County has been preparing for terrorist attacks for several years; they have also been providing training and equipment to local first responders such as law enforcement officials, fire departments and hazmat teams. The Office of Emergency Management, in conjunction with law enforcement, FBI, Fire/EMS, Red Cross, hospitals, physicians, and the county public health department, prepared a Terrorism Response Plan as well as a Bioterrorism Response Plan. These plans were incorporated as annexes to Waukesha County’s All Hazards Emergency Operations Plan. While that document has been replaced by the Waukesha County Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan the annexes have been retained for future use. Waukesha County will continue to conduct exercises and pursue training and equipment for its first responders.
Preparing for a terrorist incident includes many of the same techniques used to prepare for other crises.
The use of explosives by terrorists can result in collapsed buildings and fires. People who live or work in a multi-level building can do the following:
As with any other disaster or emergency, advance preparations and planning can make the incident much more manageable for you and your family. Some actions you and your family can take to be better prepared for a terrorist incident or any other disaster include assembling a disaster supplies kit, choosing an out-of-town contact, selecting a meeting place, and becoming familiar with your children’s school’s emergency plans.
Disaster Supplies Kit
Planning ahead is one of the best ways to protect your family. Assemble a disaster supplies kit for three days including some general emergency supplies and any special items you require. This kit could be kept in a sturdy plastic container or duffel bag or some other easy to carry container. Recommended items in this kit include:
Out-of-Town Emergency Contact
Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact. Make sure every household member has e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager and cell) for the contact and each other. Leave these numbers at your children's schools and at your workplace. Your family should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or try e-mail. Many people flood the telephone lines when emergencies happen, but e-mail can sometimes get through when calls don't.
Predetermined Meeting Place
Designating a meeting place away from your home beforehand will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.
School Emergency Plan
Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you may have. In an emergency, your children may be sheltered in place or evacuated from school. Be sure that the school has updated information about how to reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pickup. And, ask what type of authorization the school may require to release a child to someone you designate, if you are not able to pick up your child. If protective actions are being taken at your children's school, do not go to the school. School personnel are trained to handle emergencies. During times of emergency the school telephones may be overwhelmed with calls. For further information, listen to local emergency radio and TV stations to learn when and where you can pick up your children.
For more information on what you can do to be prepared for a terrorist event, see the following:
For additional information on terrorism, the following may be helpful:
For more information about the specific effects of chemical or biological agents, consult the following: