Broward mayors urged to better prepare for terror
By KEVIN DEUTSCH
herald writer

Harrison Lobdell travels the country teaching America's mayors how to prepare for the possibility of a terrorist attack in their city.

He visited Hollywood City Hall Thursday to conduct Broward's first Mayoral Conference for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Incident Preparedness, instructing mayors and other city officials about the resources they have at their disposal in the event they ever face a calamity similar to what Mayor Rudy Giuliani encountered in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

''You may very well have to deal with a situation of mass evacuation and mass sheltering if your city is attacked,'' Lobdell told Broward mayors, police officers and firefighters. ``It's not really a matter of if, but when.''

Lobdell led off the conference with a slide show, in which a fictional city named ''Stonebridge'' is attacked. In the scenario, a bomb explodes inside a government building. There are dead and injured, though nobody knows how many.

Lobdell talked about setting up a mobile command post and a place where wounded victims could be tended to immediately, before being transported to a hospital.

SHARING INFORMATION

The presentation stresses the importance of sharing information among the police and fire departments and federal agencies like the FBI.

''You can deal with an incident, as long as you're organized to deal with it and your resources are in order,'' said Lobdell, an executive program manager for the National Emergency Response and Rescue Training Center at Texas A&M. ``Elected official leadership before, during, and after an incident can make a difference.''

On Lobdell's cue, Hollywood Mayor Mara Giulianti discussed emergency plans with a few of her firefighters and police officers. She learned that the Hollywood Fire Department owns several tents that can be converted into a command post and medical triage center near the scene of an emergency.

''We're discussing things which might have never been discussed had we not done this,'' Giulianti said.

Lobdell also touched on what federal funding cities may be eligible for. He said the Department Of Homeland Security has money available for such items as radiation suits and gas masks, essential in certain types of emergencies. Grants are also offered to cities by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile, a program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that distributes medicines and antidotes for use in the event of a calamity.

`IN GOOD SHAPE'

In addition to Hollywood's Mayor Giulianti, who hosted the event, participants included Plantation Mayor Rae Carole Armstrong, Hallandale Beach Commissioner Dorothy Ross, and Hollywood Fire Marshal Donald Purdue.

''I bet if you were to call most mayors in the county, they wouldn't know if they're prepared'' for a terrorist attack, said Giulianti.

``But it appears that most of the things we need are there or we're well on our way towards. I think Hollywood is in good shape.''