Countering Terror

Homeland Readiness

"It's not like it was on Sept. 10, 2001, anymore," said Reggie Bell of the Mississippi State Fire Academy. "We have to be aware of our surroundings and outward warning signs and they are there."

Bell was one of the instructors at Friday's First Responders Anti Terrorism Training in Meridian.

As part of the state's Homeland Security effort, emergency responders from 11 counties attended the session.

Throughout this year, similar seminars will be presented throughout the state. Organizers say bringing together firefighters, police officers and other emergency responders is very important.

"For example, law enforcement may not be the only ones that need to know about what to look for and how to look for it because an ambulance driver may arrive at the scene of an accident and say maybe this is not just a wreck," said Max Fenn of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The focus of the seminar war "prevention."

"You go to the federal building in Oklahoma City, there were outward warning signs that Timothy McVeigh had and I think we have to change our mindset," said Bell. "We have to respond differently now."

Although not thought to be a likely target, officials say Mississippi is ready in case of an attack. However, they say you can never have enough eyes and ears.

Citizens are advised if you notice something strange which you think could be linked to an act of terrorism, you are asked to FIRST call local authorities. The FBI has also set up a special hotline to handle such calls. That number is 948-5000.