Everybody knows the children's story of Rip Van Winkle. Set in the time of the Declaration of Independence of the United States, Rip Van Winkle is the story of a man who, upon walking in the mountains with his dog, stumbles upon a strange man with a keg of liquor and a small company of odd-looking...
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Fire and EMS agencies cannot do it alone. The role of fire and EMS agencies as first responders demands that they be adequately equipped and trained to effectively handle whatever situation they are confronted with. To that end, federal assistance must play a crucial role.
Some of things which first responders need include certified chem/bio masks, given to all fire departments in major cities, including all departments within a 25-mile radius; expand and fund the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) program; increase the number of Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) teams and enhance their capability to respond and deal with major incidents; and increase funding for counterterrorism programs that are directed specifically to fire and EMS agencies.
It is no longer a question of "if" another terrorist attack will occur, but a question of "when" it will occur. Unfortunately, if Rip Van Winkle were a modern story, I am afraid if he were to go to sleep last Sept. 11, he would find that not much has changed one year later.
Gary Ludwig, MS, EMT-P, a Firehouse® contributing editor, serves as the director of emergency services for Jefferson County, MO. He retired as chief paramedic from the St. Louis Fire Department after serving the City of St. Louis for 24 years. Ludwig has trained and lectured internationally and nationally on fire and EMS topics. He also operates The Ludwig Group, a professional consulting firm. He can be reached at 636-789-5660 or via www.garyludwig.com.