County ready if terrorists should attack

April 08, 2003 12:00 am

By ABBY SOUZA

As American troops fight in Iraq, some people worry the country could become a target for retaliation. But, government at all levels — including Tuolumne County officials — have taken steps to prepare.

"We're in constant contact with state Office of Emergency Services," said Maureen Frank, Tuolumne County OES coordinator.

California's OES coordinates overall state agency response to natural, manmade and war-caused disasters. It also is responsible for assisting local governments in preparing for emergencies and recovery efforts.

After the president announced that the United States would attack Iraq, the state opened an emergency operations center in Rancho Cordova and has since conducted conference calls twice daily with each county's emergency services office.

Every day, at 9:20 a.m. and 9:20 p.m., Frank has conference call with representatives of the state OES and the other nine counties that make up the OES's Region 4. Each representative gives updates on what has been happening in their county.

"We have a governor right now that wants to know anything and everything," Frank said.

At first, these calls took 35 to 40 minutes, and all counties participated. But recently, the calls have gotten shorter and the number of participants fewer.

"This week, things have been slowing down a bit," Frank said.

Frank also is on the phone with a state OES liaison every morning for updates on what is going on at the state level.

County law enforcement representatives also participate in daily conference calls with the California OES Law Enforcement Mutual Aide, Frank said.

At 11:30 a.m., the sheriff's office talks with other nearby counties and the OES office about any protests, possible hate crimes or other suspicious events in their counties.

Frank said she is unsure whether the county will continue with those conference calls.

"Right now, we're just in normal response mode," Frank said.

But if terrorism hits California, Tuolumne County OES has a plan.