Officials show off terror tools

PUNTA GORDA -- Southwest Florida law enforcement and emergency officials say they are prepared in case of a terrorist attack.

Wednesday morning at the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office, they showed off some of the equipment they've received through the state's homeland security funding.

"This equipment will be available to any agency during an emergency," said FDLE spokesman Larry Long.

Charlotte County Fire & EMS has about 900 biohazard suits costing between $50,000 and $60,000, according to Deputy Chief Verne Riggall. Most of the suits would be worn by first responders -- such as police, firefighters and medical personnel -- and victims in the vicinity of an attack.

Most of the equipment needed in case of a bioterror incident can be carried in the department's special operations truck, such as various radiation and chemical detectors.

"With all this equipment, plus the truck, the training and salaries," Riggall said, "you're looking at a $1 million investment."

The gas detectors analyze air in different ways, such as superheating an air sample or passing light through it. Some of the various detectors may be useless depending on the situation, but special operations workers say having many options is an asset.

"By utilizing different technologies, we're expanding our capability," said Scott Stein of Fort Myers Fire & Rescue.

Charlotte is part of the nine-county Region Six Domestic Security Task Force, a regional network of law enforcement, emergency and health agencies that share resources and information to prevent and respond to terrorism.

You can e-mail Garry Overbey at


Staff Writer