"Cover Story" piece on the state of Greater Portland's preparedness in the event


Chris Barry


Casco Bay Weekly




10-11, 13, 1


"Cover Story" piece on the state of Greater Portland's preparedness in the event of a terrorist attack. On Sept. 11, members of the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency discovered they were unable to communicate with Maine Medical Center in Portland over a secure radio frequency, a problem that has been remedied. Prior to the terrorist attacks, only a half-dozen Portland firefighters on any given shift were trained to decontaminate people following a hazardous incident. But by the end of January, at a cost to the city of about $30,000, every firefighter will be qualified in those procedures. And the state recently received a $1.4 million federal grant to pay for more gear and training. According to Fred LaMontagne, acting chief of Portland's fire department, the city's terrorism task force now includes about 70 city employees and is currently working with Maine Medical and Mercy hospitals in Portland to develop plans to transport and treat large numbers of people contaminated by radioactive or biological agents. In addition, the state Bureau of Health launched an initiative in December to train about 250 health-care providers to respond to bioterrorism, and over 300 more are expected to receive such training in January. Some city facilities and private buildings have also been designated as mass decontamination stations, and officials are updating the region's mutual-aid agreement, a document that dictates responsibilities and liabilities for municipalities during a crisis.


Security systems, Terrorism