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Terrorism Questions

Question:
What is Wisconsin doing about the threat of terrorism?

Answer: Terrorism is being addressed on many fronts in Wisconsin at federal, state and local levels. Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) of the Department of Military Affairs is coordinating state government's preparedness and response efforts. A key partner in this efforts is  Wisconsin’s Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS).

WEM, in conjunction with other state agencies, continuously prepares to respond to terrorist incidents through its emergency planning, training and exercising efforts. Many state agencies, including the state departments of Natural Resources; Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection; Transportation and the Public Service Commission, have a critical role to play in Wisconsin’s response and recovery plans.

In addition, WEM is responsible for coordinating the state's response to a wide range of emergencies and disasters, both natural and manmade. While familiar hazards such as floods, tornadoes, chemical spills, wildfires, and winter storms continue to threaten public health and safety in Wisconsin, terrorism involving the use of nuclear, biological or chemical weapons of mass destruction (WMD) have recently emerged as serious and disturbing threats.

Wisconsin’s WMD preparedness efforts began in earnest in 1996 when Congress passed the "Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act". Under this legislation, Madison and Milwaukee were selected to prepare for a WMD event and received training and equipment from the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. Since 1998, Milwaukee has received $300,000 and Madison $280,000 in training and exercise assistance.

In 1997, Governor Thompson formed the Interagency Working Group on Terrorism to improve coordination and resources among federal, state and local agencies. Members include WEM, the state departments of Military Affairs, Natural Resources, Justice, Transportation (State Patrol), Health and Family Services and Agriculture, in addition to the Capitol Police, UW Lab of Hygiene, Milwaukee and Dane County Emergency Management, Regional Hazardous Materials Response Teams, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FBI.  The group continues to meet on a regular basis and has developed a terrorism appendix to the recently revised State Emergency Operations Plan. The appendix outline state agency roles and responsibilities in a WMD event.

Local governments are also preparing for a wide range of emergency situations. Since 1997, nearly 8,000 local law enforcement, fire, public works, and emergency medical agencies and personnel have been trained in how to properly respond to potential terrorism incidents. These training efforts will continue to receive emphasis. In addition, communities are developing plans and procedures for such incidents, and then testing those plans and procedures in disaster exercises centered on terrorist activities. Again since 1997, more than 50 such exercises have                    been conducted around the state.

Over the past year, the counties conducted threat and vulnerability assessments for their jurisdictions. They also assessed their capabilities to meet those threats and identified future equipment needs. WEM and the Interagency Group will compile the results of these completed assessments, determine the state’s overall WMD risks and develop a statewide WMD Strategic Plan. Once the Plan is completed, the state will be eligible to receive federal funding for response equipment for first responders.

Most recently, Governor McCallum formed a Task Force on Domestic Preparedness. The Task Force is co-chaired by WEM and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and includes representatives of public health, fire services, law enforcement, emergency medical, agriculture, utilities, information technology and emergency management. The goal of the Task Force is to review the work that has already been accomplished and provide guidance and direction for the work that remains to be done. The ultimate goal is to outline a series of progressive logical steps that will enhance our statewide preparedness level and allow us to respond quickly and efficiently to any WMD incident. The Task Force met for the first time on October 11 and one of the first orders of business was the preparation of this document.

Many businesses – especially larger ones that could potentially be a target of terrorism – are developing and testing internal emergency plans and procedures and training personnel in anti-terrorism methods. These combined efforts of government, business and individual citizens form the cornerstone of Wisconsin’s continuing fight against terrorism.  

Question:
As a concerned citizen, I would like to help. What can I do?

Answer:Look to help in your local community. Each county in Wisconsin has an emergency management program that works closely with local volunteers to deal with unmet needs in disaster situations. In New York, as in many recent disasters, the outpouring of support is commendable but can become chaotic quickly when volunteers are not trained, coordinated and managed properly. Working within your local emergency management and support groups is a great way to get trained and give back to your  community.

Question:
Is Wisconsin at risk of a terrorist attack?

Answer: Terrorist incidents involving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) pose a growing threat to the security of the United States, including Wisconsin. Terrorism is the use of force or violence against persons or property in violation of the criminal laws of the United States for purposes of intimidation, coercion or ransom. Terrorists often use threats to create fear among the public, to try to convince citizens that their government is powerless to prevent terrorism, and to get immediate publicity for their causes. Learn more about the nature of terrorism to protect yourself and your family. One way governments attempt to reduce our vulnerability to terrorist incidents is by increasing security at airports and other public facilities. You can prepare to deal with a terrorist incident by learning about and adapting many of the same techniques used to prepare for other emergencies.

Question:
What can I do to be prepared?

Answer: Create an emergency communications plan

Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the chosen contact. Make sure every household member has e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work, pager and cell) for the contact and each other. Leave these numbers at your children's schools and at your workplace. Your family should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or try e-mail. Many people flood the telephone lines when emergencies happen, but e-mail can sometimes get through when calls don't.

Establish a meeting place

Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and some hotels will not accept them.

Assemble a disaster supplies kit

If you need to evacuate your home or are asked to "shelter in place," having some essential supplies on hand will make you and your family more comfortable. Prepare a disaster supplies kit in an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or small plastic trash can. Include "special needs" items for any member of your household (infant formula or items for people with disabilities or older people), first aid supplies (including prescription medications), a change of clothing for each household member, a sleeping bag or bedroll for each, a battery powered radio or television and extra batteries, food and water and tools. It is also a good idea to include some cash and copies of important family documents (birth certificates, passports and licenses) in your kit

Question:
What if my children are at school during an emergency?

Answer: In an emergency, your children may be sheltered in place or evacuated from school. If protective actions are being taken at your children's school, do not go to the school. School personnel are trained to handle emergencies. Do not call your child's school. You could tie up a phone line that is needed for emergency communications. For further information, listen to local emergency radio and TV stations to learn when and where you can pick up your children.

Question:
What do I need to know about chemical emergencies?

Answer: A major chemical emergency can release a hazardous amount of a chemical into the environment. These accidents sometimes result in a fire or explosion. While many chemicals have a distinct odor, many times you cannot see or smell anything unusual. Some chemicals that are safe, and even helpful in small amounts, can be harmful in larger quantities or under certain conditions. Chemical accidents can occur at anywhere, including your home.

You could be exposed to a chemical in three ways:

1. Breathing the chemical

2. Swallowing contaminated food, water, or medication

3. Absorbing the chemical through your skin, or coming into contact with clothing or things that have touched the chemical

Question:
How will I be notified of a chemical emergency?

Answer: In the event of a major chemical emergency, you will be notified by authorities. To get your attention, officials may drive by and give instructions over a loud speaker or come to your door. Listen carefully to radio or television emergency alert stations (EAS), and strictly follow instructions. Your life could depend on it.

You will be told:

  • The type of health hazard
  • The area affected
  • How to protect yourself
  • Evacuation routes (if necessary)
  • Shelter locations
  • Type and location of medical facilities
  • The phone numbers to call if you need extra help.

Do not call the telephone company, and do not call EMS, 9-1-1, or the operator for information. Dial these numbers only for a possible life-threatening emergency.

Question:
What types of protective actions could be used?

Answer: Shelter in Place

One of the basic instructions you may be given in a chemical emergency is to "shelter in place" – a precaution to keep you and your family safe while remaining in your home. If you are told to shelter in place:

  • Take your children and pets indoors immediately. While gathering your family, you can provide a minimal amount of protection to your breathing by covering your mouth and nose with a damp cloth.
  • Close all windows in your home.
  • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems.
  • Close the fireplace damper.
  • Go to an aboveground room (not the basement) with the fewest windows and doors.
  • Take your Family Disaster Supplies Kit with you.
  • Wet some towels and jam them in the cracks under the doors. Tape around doors, windows, exhaust fans or vents. Use plastic garbage bags to cover windows, outlets, and heat registers.
  • If you are told there is danger of explosion, close the window shades, blinds, or curtains. To avoid injury, stay away from the windows.
  • Stay in the room and listen to your radio until you are told all is safe or you are told to evacuate.

Evacuation

Authorities may decide to evacuate an area for your protection. Again, it is important to stay calm, listen carefully and follow all instructions. If you are told to evacuate, listen to your radio to make sure the evacuation order applies to you and to understand if you are to evacuate immediately or if you have time to pack some essentials. Do not use your telephone. If you are told to evacuate immediately:

Move quickly and calmly and take the following with you:

  • Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit and medications
  • All household pets and pet supplies
  • A change of clothing for each member of the family
  • Medication, eyeglasses, hearing aids or dentures, or things like canes and walkers
  • Personal items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.
  • Items for your baby such as diapers, formula, or baby food
  • Books, puzzles or cards and games for entertainment
  • Close and lock your windows
  • Shut off all vents
  • Lock the door

Do not assume that a shelter will have everything you need. In most cases, the shelters will provide only emergency items such as meals, cots, and blankets. You do not need to turn off your refrigerator or freezer, but you should turn off all other appliances and lights before locking your home as you leave.

Check on neighbors to make sure they have been notified, and offer help to those with disabilities or other special needs. If you need a ride, ask a neighbor. If no neighbor is available to help you, listen to the emergency broadcast station for further instructions.

Take only one car to the evacuation site. Close your car windows and air vents and turn off the heater or air conditioner. Do not take shortcuts because a shortcut may put you in the path of danger. For your safety, follow the exact route you are told to take.

Question:
What is biological terrorism?

Answer: Biological terrorism involves the deliberate use of biological weapons or devices intended to spread disease-producing organisms or toxins in food, water, by the use of insects, or as an aerosol. The impact of a biological weapon would depend on the characteristics of the pathogen or toxin, the design of the weapon or delivery system, the environment in which it is used, and the speed and effectiveness of the medical and public health response.

Across the nation, local, state, and federal authorities are putting capabilities in place to improve the ability to detect abnormal public health problems rapidly. As the normal cold and flu season arrives in the next few months, please do not jump to the conclusion that you have been infected with a biological agent if you begin to feel achy or have the sniffles

Question:
How easy would it be for terrorists to disperse a biological agent effectively?

Answer: Terrorists cannot count on just filling the delivery system with agent, pointing the device, and flipping the switch to activate it. Biological agents have extreme sensitivity to sunlight, humidity, pollutants in the atmosphere, temperature, and even exposure to oxygen, all of which can kill the microbes.

Question:
What is being done to protect the public from bioterrorism?

Answer: There have been no incidents of bio-terrorism in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) has in place a bioterrorism preparedness plan that has been funded through a multi-year grant of approximately $1.12 million per year, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for stronger public health preparedness for bioterrorism.

Wisconsin has been preparing for how to respond in the event of a bioterrorist attack and much work has already been accomplished. Working cooperatively with the Wisconsin Emergency Management, FBI, local health departments, emergency medical services representatives, poison control centers, area physicians and hospitals, DHFS continues to focus on this extremely important area.

The CDC funding has allowed Wisconsin to enhance our ability to respond to acts of bioterrorism across the entire state. This includes coordinating emergency management activities, enhancing disease detection and reporting, improving biological laboratory capacity and enhancing  Wisconsin’s health alert network.

Question:
Should I buy a gas mask?

Answer: No. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services is not recommending the purchase of gas masks. While there has been a great amount of media attention on biological and chemical terrorism, the threat is still low.

For complete protection with a gas mask, it would need to be worn all day, every day. To wear a mask continuously or "just in case" a bioterrorist attack occurs, is impractical, if not impossible. Further, a gas mask is a specialized piece of equipment that requires training and a correct professional fitting to ensure proper protection.

To work effectively, masks must be specially fitted to the wearer, and wearers must be trained in their use. This is usually done for the military and for workers in industries and laboratories who face routine exposure to chemicals and germs on the job. Gas masks purchased at an Army surplus store or off the Internet carry no guarantees that they will work.

More serious is the fact that the masks can be dangerous if worn incorrectly. There have even been reports of accidental suffocation when people have worn masks incorrectly.

In the event that your area is threatened by a chemical or biological exposure whether by an accident or intentional release, your local community will be notified through emergency plans already in place.

Question:
Do I need to get medicine to protect my children and myself?

Answer: No. There have been no reports of unusual increases in illness in Wisconsin. If the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services  determines that there is a need for the public to receive medicine, the State of Wisconsin will notify residents on how and where to do this. Fortunately, many types of illnesses that could be caused by biological terrorism are treatable. If the need were to arise, federal and state public health authorities have been developing plans to ensure that medicines are quickly delivered to the public to prevent or treat these illnesses.

Question:
Should I have my own supply of antibiotics?

Answer: No. There is currently no justification for taking antibiotics or keeping your own supply. Antibiotics can cause side effects and should only be taken with medical supervision. Keeping a supply of antibiotics on hand can pose other problems as the antibiotics have a limited "shelf life" before they lose their strength

Question:
What is Smallpox?

Answer: Smallpox is a disease caused by a virus, which has not been seen outside two secure laboratories since 1980. The disease can spread from person to person. Transmission usually occurs only after the patient develops a fever and rash. Although there is no treatment for the disease, a vaccine against smallpox provides excellent protection and serves to stop the spread of the disease. While many vaccines must be given weeks or months before a person is exposed to infection, smallpox vaccine is different. It protects a person even when given 2 to 3 days after exposure to the disease and may prevent a fatal outcome even when given as late as 4 to 5 days after exposure. Smallpox was stamped out globally by 1980 and vaccination stopped everywhere in the world.

Question:
Can I get the Smallpox vaccine?

Answer: The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services Chief Medical Officer explains that there have been no recommendations either nationally or from the state for the distribution of vaccines for smallpox or anthrax. He also stresses that early identification of symptoms and illness is extremely important in our efforts to effectively identify any potential bioterrorism attack, noting that while the threat is still low, if exposure is detected, medical treatment would quickly begin.

The Smallpox vaccine, removed from the commercial market in the 1980s due to the eradication of the disease, and would be released only under the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to effectively treat individuals who may have been exposed to smallpox. The U.S. has a limited supply of vaccine and plans are in place at the CDC to produce new vaccine supplies.

In the event that it is believed that someone has been exposed to smallpox, the CDC has plans to respond to these types of public health emergencies and will coordinate activities with the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services to ensure the safety of you and your family.

Question:
If I was vaccinated against Smallpox before 1980, am I still protected?

Answer: Probably not. Vaccination has been shown to wear off in most people after 10 years but may last longer if the person has been successfully vaccinated on multiple occasions. If health authorities determine that you have been exposed to Smallpox or are at risk of infection, they would recommend that you be re-vaccinated immediately.

Question:
What is anthrax?

Answer: Anthrax is a disease caused by bacteria. Prior to control, Anthrax was mostly found in animals and sometimes in humans (slaughter house workers) who handled infected animals. The form of the disease that health authorities are concerned that a bioterrorist attack might produce is inhalational Anthrax. Inhalational Anthrax occurs when a person breathes in Anthrax spores.

In the event of a bioterrorist attack, health authorities would conduct a rapid investigation, determine the place and time of the release, and identify individuals who need antibiotics. The federal government has stockpiled antibiotics for large-scale distribution in the event of a bioterrorist attack.

Question:
Is Anthrax contagious?

Answer: No. Anthrax is not contagious. It does not spread from person to person. Healthy people who come into contact with persons sick with Anthrax cannot acquire the disease.

Question:
Can I get the anthrax vaccine?

Answer: No, the Anthrax vaccine is not available to the general public. The vaccine is only available to the military because of the risk they may encounter in their work overseas. The risk of your exposure to Anthrax is still considered to be low. Exposure to Anthrax can be treated with early intervention and it does not spread from person to person. In the event of a possible Anthrax exposure, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has in place plans to respond to these types of public health emergencies and will coordinate activities with the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services to ensure safety.

Question:
What can I do to protect my children and myself?

Answer: First, we recommend that you go on with your daily activities. In the event that we become aware of situations that may be harmful to your health, the public will be notified as soon as possible.

In Wisconsin, physicians and laboratories are required to report a variety of diseases and conditions including unusual increases of disease to local public health departments. This reporting process occurs routinely between health care providers and the local public health department serving your community. Local public health departments use this information to monitor the diseases occurring within your area. They in turn, report this information to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services so disease activity across the State of Wisconsin can be monitored. These are standard disease-reporting procedures for many diseases – not only those associated with bioterrorism.

In many cases, local public health departments will follow-up with a phone call to the person who has been ill. However, a phone call from your local health department does not mean you have been exposed to bioterrorism. Follow-up is standard practice for a number of diseases occurring in Wisconsin.  In such cases, a representative of your local public health department will ask a series of routine questions to assist them in determining who may have been exposed and the likely time and place of that exposure. Your cooperation during such follow-up will allow local public health authorities to more thoroughly monitor the types of diseases that occur in your community.

Question:
How would my doctor know what symptoms to look for?

Answer: Communicable disease epidemiologists continue to provide training to local health departments, physicians, nurses and other health professionals to improve their ability to detect and respond to all communicable disease outbreaks in Wisconsin, particularly those caused by unknown agents.

Question:
What is the CDC National Pharmaceutical Stockpile?

Answer: The CDC National Pharmaceutical Stockpile program has developed a national repository of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical material that they can deliver to the site of a chemical or biological terrorism event. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and Wisconsin Emergency Management are developing a plan and protocols in order to effectively receive and distribute these vital supplies in Wisconsin if needed.

Question:
I’ve received an e-mail warning about the "Klingerman Virus." Is this true?

Answer: No, it is not true and is a hoax. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received several inquiries concerning an e-mail message about people who have been infected with "Klingerman virus" after opening gift packages delivered to them in the mail. According to the e-mail message, a number of people became ill with a viral infection after handling a sponge contained in a package marked, "A gift for you from the Klingerman Foundation."

There is no "Klingerman virus," and the information in the e-mail notice is untrue. If you receive an e-mail message about "Klingerman virus," please do not forward it to others.

Question:
What if my fear about bioterrorism is having a serious impact on my family and work life?

Answer: Given the attacks upon civilians that took place on September 11, it is reasonable for citizens to feel anxious about their personal safety. Should your fear get to the point that it stops you from doing the things you would normally do in a day, it might be helpful to talk with someone. Many people will experience a variety of reactions to the trauma and the unforgettable images from the tragedy, including feeling numb, angry, sleepless and helpless. The following tips may help you cope with the emotions and grief.

  • Talk. Deep trauma becomes more manageable when it is verbalized. Try to find words to describe your reaction and share them with someone you trust. If you can’t talk with someone, write in a journal or diary.
  • Do something to help. Donate blood. Send money to one of the other organizations that are helping directly. Fly an American flag or put a candle 
  • in your window to affirm your commitment that darkness will not overcome the light. Plant a tree or perennial plant to remind yourself at next year’s anniversary that life prevails.
  • Utilize spiritual resources. Attend church, synagogue, mosque or other faith community services or vigils.
  • Seek professional support. Additional trauma support, counseling and resources are available. Information can be found at:
    www.madd.org
    www.ncvc.org
    www.pomc.org
    www.try-nova.org

Question:
Could terrorists poison Wisconsin’s water supply?

Answer: While, in general, the "pill in the water supply" theory about chemical and biological agents is not true, there is a very real potential for intentional contamination of a drinking water system with a few select agents. All municipal water supplies have safeguards in place. Every day, water goes through various purification processes and is tested often. Many cities have implemented increased free residual chlorine levels in their distribution systems and have implemented restrictive policies regarding providing water system information to external parties in order to reduce system vulnerability.

Question:
What should I do if I see a crop duster flying near my home?

Answer: Aerial applicators, or "crop dusters", are an important part of Wisconsin’s modern agriculture system and are a tool to help protect or enhance crop production. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has lifted its recent restrictions on aerial applicators so these planes are now flying legally. At this time of year, aerial applicators are probably spreading wheat seeds on farm fields for the winter wheat crop, rather than spraying pesticides. In Wisconsin, aerial applications of pesticides most often occur from mid- to late-March through September or early October. The applications are made primarily to potato and vegetable crops. If you see spray planes flying over farm or forest areas, this is most likely a normal operation and there is nothing you need to do.

Aerial applicators in Wisconsin are required to be licensed and certified with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. The pilots are also licensed through FAA. In addition, the Wisconsin Agricultural Aviation Association, the University of Wisconsin Extension along with several other Midwestern universities, hosts an annual fly-in to conduct regulatory inspections of aircraft and spray systems, as well as to administer  test flights over a line of computer-assisted instruments to ensure planes are properly calibrated. Certification for pesticide applicators,                     including aerial applicators involves passing a written test every five years. Testers are required to show positive identification at the testing site and present their social security number and list their employer. All pesticide application businesses, including aerial businesses, must be licensed and all pesticide mixing and loading sites must be registered with the department. In addition, aerial application planes are difficult to fly and require special training.

During spray season, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection inspects mixing and loading sites at airports, checks the security of pesticides at those locations and performs use-observations of aerial applications. If you see crop dusters flying over farm or forest areas, this is most likely a normal operation and there is nothing you need to do. However, if you observe any aircraft – not just crop dusters – flying in a suspicious or dangerous manner, contact your local law enforcement authorities or the nearest FAA office.

Question:
How do I know Wisconsin’s food supply is safe and protected from chemical or biological terrorism?

Answer: While we are aware of no specific threat of biological or chemical terrorism in Wisconsin or the United States, Wisconsin’s farmers and food establishments are committed to heightening security measures.

The state, through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and other local, federal, university and industry partners, has a comprehensive and aggressive surveillance and inspection program in place for food and agricultural products from the farm gate to the consumer plate. In fact, food and dairy inspectors conduct thorough, regular inspections of on farm operations, food processing facilities, grocery stores, restaurants  and other food establishments across the state. We also have a corps of 11 foreign animal disease diagnosticians who are on 24-hour call. The state employs epidemiologists to rapidly trace outbreaks of disease, regardless of the source of infection.

In addition, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and the University of Wisconsin have state-of-the-art laboratories that routinely sample and test both raw agricultural commodities and finished food products for pesticide residues and food-borne pathogens. This laboratory system also tests for animal diseases that pose a human health threat or economic threat.

The Wisconsin Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection and Health and Family Services have also collectively developed a response plan for food-related emergencies, including how the agencies will work closely together to identify incidents early and initiate control measures promptly.

Question:
I'm a farmer, agri-chemical dealer, agricultural pilot, lawn care operator, or exterminator. What can I do to ensure that my products continue to be safely and securely stored and properly used?

Answer: Agricultural chemicals and pesticides are used safely and properly in Wisconsin to help farmers control pests, reduce associated risks to public health, and produce high-quality products. Under certain circumstances, however, these materials can be hazardous and pose a threat to public health and safety.

With that in mind, the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection ask those who manufacture, transport, store, sell, distribute and use agricultural chemicals or pesticides to be especially vigilant for suspicious activity and to be extremely proactive in all security measures.

All agricultural chemical and pesticide businesses and applicators should review their individual security/management practices. In developing or reviewing a personal checklist of proper storage and usage for various materials, the following are a good guide.

  • Ensure storage areas are secure and locked as appropriate.
  • Be aware of who has keys and/or access to storage areas. Restrict access of non-employees (deliveries, maintenance, etc.) to facilities.
  • Regularly inspect storage facilities and maintain an inspection log.
  • Keep precise inventory records of products currently and readily available.
  • Secure and/or lock application equipment when not in use.
  • Keep a list of all emergency phone numbers readily available, including all fire, law enforcement and medical contacts.
  • Immediately report all unusual purchases, suspicious activity, vehicles, people, theft, sabotage and vandalism to local law enforcement authorities.

Question:
I'm a farmer or a food processor. What should I be doing to minimize potential threats of biological or chemical terrorism?

Answer: We are aware of no specific threat of biological or chemical terrorism in Wisconsin or the United States. However, it is prudent that you and your operation be especially diligent in establishing and maintaining appropriate security measures to help ensure the health and safety of the people, animals and products that may be entering or leaving your premises. Limiting access to farm or food production areas is a well-recognized method of safeguarding the health of both farm crops and herds. Wisconsin law also requires managers of food establishments to exclude unnecessary persons from food preparation and food storage areas. Now would be a good time to review your operation's security measures and safety procedures.

Appropriate security measures consist of conducting a comprehensive review of your farm or facility, including all structures, equipment, parking areas, personnel with access, alarm systems, emergency power systems, employee-visitor identification, communications, perimeter security and contingency plans. All product inventories and shipments should also be closely tracked.

Specifically for livestock operations, animals, including those in pasture, should be monitored regularly. Any unusual behavior or symptoms of livestock disease should be reported immediately to your veterinarian. You may also call the Division of Animal Health at 608-224-4872 during weekdays.

You should also ensure that your employees have been trained in, and consistently practice, your operation's security measures. Some other suggestions to keep in mind and to help you develop your individual biosecurity plans: (1) have a list of all emergency contacts on hand, and ensure that it's appropriately posted and personnel are aware of it; (2) report all suspicious activities, vehicles, people, thefts, inventory shortages or missing products, sabotage to facilities or equipment, and vandalism or activities that may pose a safety or security risk.

All reports should be made to your local law enforcement authorities. In addition, each county has an Emergency Management Coordinator who may be contacted to provide guidance to you and your operation in developing security and emergency plans.

Question:
What kind of license is needed to haul hazardous waste or hazardous materials?

Answer: Hazardous waste licenses are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources. They require transporters of hazardous waste to obtain a license to haul the waste and the company must meet strict documentation requirements. The drivers of trucks hauling hazardous waste or materials are under the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. Drivers must obtain proper endorsements for their operator’s license through testing and must provide multiple proofs of identity.

Question:
Should the public be concerned regarding hazardous materials that are being transported over the highways?

Answer: Both hazardous materials and hazardous wastes are transported daily with little or no risk to the public. Regular shipments of gasoline, propane, acid and other substances are delivered to destinations across Wisconsin to meet the needs of industry and the public. State agencies have increased their inspection of both motor carriers and individuals that are licensed to transport these materials in order to ensure public safety.

Question:
How available are hazardous wastes to potential terrorists?

Answer: The company that generates the waste must properly document hazardous cargoes. The company then contracts with a transporter to deliver the waste to the proper treatment, storage or disposal facility. To increase security, credentialed transport companies are being advised to review their hiring practices and to be extra cautious in their transport procedures. They have also been cautioned to never leave their vehicles unattended.

Question:
What is Wisconsin doing to heighten security at our airports?

Answer: At the request of President Bush, the Governor has deployed National Guard troops to various checkpoints at seven of Wisconsin’s commercial airports. These soldiers are performing a wide range of security functions, ranging from monitoring passengers to inspecting luggage.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation plays an oversight and regulatory role with Wisconsin's public-use airports, which tend to be the smaller airports with no commercial service. WisDOT's Bureau of Aeronautics remains a resource for these small airports, acting as a conduit for information related to airport security at their level as provided by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Question:
What is the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) doing to protect the roads in our state from terrorist attacks?

Answer: The Wisconsin State Patrol is an operating division within WisDOT. This organizational relationship enhances crucial security communication and response between local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and the entire transportation infrastructure. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is actively reviewing the entire transportation network to closely evaluate how various components are connected and what risks exist from potential threats. Plans have been in place for some time now regarding threats to the state’s highway system. For security reasons, details of those plans are not being released to the public

Question:
Are there emergency plans available for using the highways as evacuation corridors or for access by emergency personnel during a crisis?

Answer: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has evacuation routes and scenarios plotted out regarding the necessary closure of part of the state’s transportation network. This includes, for example, the need to redirect traffic from a major interstate in order to protect motorists or provide easy access into or out of a community along that freeway corridor. The plans, which were originally drawn up for weather-related catastrophes, have been used from time to time to address problems caused by serious traffic accidents. The plans are kept up-to-date and are being reviewed again to ensure they are as complete as possible for any scenario that may occur. For security reasons, details of these plans are not being released to the public

Question:
What can I do if I see something that is unusual or activity I feel is suspicious while on the road?

Answer: You should contact your local police agency and report anything you feel is important enough that it should be investigated by law enforcement. If you see something you perceive to be an immediate threat to public safety or the state’s transportation network, WisDOT encourages you to dial 911 and report the situation to police immediately. If you have concerns about road repair or construction activities and how they relate to public safety or security, please contact your local WisDOT Transportation Service Center. A listing is available on WisDOT’s Web site at www.dot.state.wi.us.

Question:
What are we doing to protect Wisconsin’s supply of energy?

Answer: While no industry is totally immune to the risk of disruptions to production facilities, electric and natural gas utilities, and the petroleum industry have all taken steps to increase security. Natural gas and electric utilities also have a number of emergency procedures in place to quickly respond to any disruption in their ability to meet customers’ needs, whether that occurs as a result of storm damage, equipment failure, or a terrorist attack. The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) monitors the state’s overall energy supply and demand, tracks energy prices, and has contingency plans available to address energy shortages.

Question:
Should I be concerned about gasoline supplies in Wisconsin?

Answer: Midwest gasoline supplies have been tight and prices have shown considerable volatility over the last year; however, supplies are currently adequate to meet the needs of Wisconsin’s motorists. The events of September 11 created a considerable amount of uncertainty and resulted in some panic buying which was fueled by some retail gas stations raising prices to unwarranted levels. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection has moved to take action against any gasoline station that may have violated Wisconsin Consumer Protection Laws. The surge in demand from panic buying on September 11 did cause some stations to temporarily run out of gasoline. A repeat of this problem can be avoided if consumers simply buy gasoline as they would normally. Gasoline inventories in the Midwest are in excess of 2 billion gallons that can be drawn down as needed to meet demand or a temporary loss of supply. Furthermore, the Midwest has weathered two unanticipated temporary closings of major refineries in the last year without significant problems at the retail level. While no facility is invulnerable, refineries and pipelines have increased security at their facilities to assure that they are not readily available targets for terrorists. Petroleum tankers are also subject to increased random checks by the Wisconsin State Patrol as part of an increased focus on vehicles hauling dangerous products on Wisconsin highways.

In the event of an international oil supply disruption, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy can be tapped. This reserve contains about 545 million barrels of crude oil that can be drawn down at a rate of up to 4.1 million barrels a day if necessary.

Question:
What about security at nuclear power plants?

Answer: In response to concerns about nuclear power plant vulnerability, plant owners have implemented additional security measures at Wisconsin nuclear power plants. This was done in response to requirements of the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and in cooperation with the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and Wisconsin Emergency Management.

Question:
What steps are being taken to increase security in state buildings?

Answer: State-owned and leased buildings are using several methods of limiting and monitoring access for employees and visitors. Employees in many buildings will be asked to show identification. Visitors may be asked to sign in and show identification.

Packages may be inspected before delivery to many offices and locations. Access to delivery docks and parking structures is being limited and inspection may be requested.

The state is also working with the landlords of leased buildings where the state maintains offices and personnel to strengthen security.

Question:
What is the state doing to combat cyberterrorism?

Answer: The state is positioned to combat cyberterrorism on two fronts. First, by protecting its systems and resources from exposure to potential terrorism threats, and second, by emphasizing the role each individual employee who uses and/or accesses the systems must play in helping to protect state assets. Also, the Governor recently created a Department of Electronic Government and appointed Secretary Rebecca Heidepriem to head this new agency. Among other things, the department will coordinate the state’s efforts on cyberterrorism.

Cyberterrorism is the use of computing resources to intimidate or coerce others for political or social gains that are contrary to democracy. An example of cyberterrorism would be sending viruses or worms that either destroy information or paralyze servers with millions of e-mails.

The second front on fighting cyberterrorism is the awareness and education of personal responsibilities of all internal system users. To be effective, each user is encouraged to take a personal interest in the need for security and to recognize that security is only as strong as its weakest link. A few key items that help to protect against cyber-terrorism include these steps:

  1. All accounts must have passwords and the passwords should be unusual, difficult to guess.
  2. If something appears out of the ordinary and/or looks suspicious in or around a technology facility, they are asked to notify the security office and their supervisor.
  3. Employees are encouraged to take a personal interest in learning about what can be done to help minimize the affects of cyberterrorism by contacting their local systems administrator and/or computer security officer.

 

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