Sussex officials prep for more terror alerts

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:49

    Sussex County-With the recent increase in the terror alert in New York City and Newark, residents of Sussex County may be concerned about their own safety and the county's preparedness. The increased alert comes as a result of intelligence identifying specific financial institutions as terrorist targets, including the New York Stock Exchange and the Prudential building in Newark. In Sussex County, the terror alert level has not been raised and remains at the yellow, or "elevated risk," level. But the new threats bring heightened awareness to the county's homeland security efforts. Officials in the Sussex County Office of Emergency Management are working to ensure that the county is fully equipped and prepared to handle a terrorist threat or emergency. The office is a department of the Sussex County Sheriff's Office and has taken many precautions to ensure that the county is one of the safest and most prepared in the state. The county has received approximately $1.7 million in federal Homeland Security funds."We are as well, if not better, prepared than most other counties," said Eskil Danielson, the office's director. "In the past year and a half we have acquired decontamination equipment and have issued personal protective equipment to emergency medical staff and firefighters." Personal protective equipment also will be issued to police departments next week. he said. The O.E.M. has also been working with county hospitals, forming a county-level bioterrorism committee in October, 2001. "We are ahead of the curve in the area of preparedness," said Danielson of the work that has been done. In addition, each township and borough has its own local coordinator for emergency management. The vast majority of the county's plans and equipment has been paid for through federal funds that have been distributed throughout New Jersey. The county has received approximately $1.7 million in such money. This figure includes "$210,000 for personal protection equipment for E.M.S., firefighters, and police personnel, $500,000 for developing a world-class hazardous response team, $500,000 to retain two planners for the county, and $500,000 for target hardening of government buildings." Danielson said it is unlikely that anything would happen in Sussex County. "We would more likely be asked to send aid to larger target areas, such as New York City, if anything were to occur," he said. The New Jersey State Fair has brought concern to some residents. But Danielson said that there is an "emergency operations plan in place at the fair, which includes all necessary responses, personnel, and requests for equipment."